Key Points Drawn from the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council Meeting

A 4-Point Explanation of

The Significance and Outcome of the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council Meeting

By Arthur J. Licursi

Please read the Acts 13:1-2, 24-46; 15:1-28, Gal 1:6-9, 2:8-9 to set the context of this article concerning four key points to be drawn from the Acts 15 ‘Jerusalem Council Meeting’ and its outcome. By this we will see Which Gospel applied to Who during the course of the 35-year Acts period as a God-ordained dispensational transition occurred.

It was after 14 years that Paul came again to the Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles of believing Pentecostal Messianic Jewish “little flock” church. Paul came to Jerusalem by revelation of the Lord in hope of settling with them about the frequently heard demand of many Jews who wanted ‘circumcision’ and Law-keeping (cf. Acts 15:5) to apply to Paul’s Gentile grace believing converts. Thus Paul came to share and distinguish what he said was that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles(Gal. 2:2).

1. In that Acts 15 meeting some of the Law-keeping Messianic Jewish leaders opposed Paul, requiring the circumcision of Paul’s Gentiles converts which he could not allow. But thankfully, Peter recognized God was using Paul in this new and different way with his new “gospel” of “the gift by grace” for “ALL men (cf. Rom. 5:15, 18), both for “the Jew first” and the Gentile.

“But not as the offence, so also is the Free Gift. For if through the offence of one [Adam} many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the Gift By Grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. Romans 5:15 (KJV)

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus Christ] the FREE GIFT came upon ALL MEN unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18 (KJV)

Recall how that Peter had his own earlier experience with some Gentiles to guide him in the Acts 15 meeting. The Lord instructed Peter to go to ‘the house of the Cornelius, a Gentile,’ initially Peter resisted, but he did go. The result of Peter’s obedience was he saw how Cornelius and his Gentile household had been ‘saved’ and received the Holy Spirit just as the Jews had at Pentecost.’ Just as importantly these Gentiles Had NOT Been Circumcised or Brought Under the Mosaic Law (read Acts 10:1-48). It was a radical change for Law-keeping Peter to recognize.

Peter recounted this experience in the Council Meeting’ of Acts 15. God in His foreknowledge had foreseen Paul’s conflict with the Law-keeping Messianic Jewish leaders in this meeting. God used Peter’s experience with Cornelius to rally Peter to Paul’s defense in the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council meeting.

2. It’s clear that AFTER the ‘Jerusalem Council Meeting’ of Acts 15 in the light of Paul’s words of Galatians 2:8-9, that any UNbelieving Jews would then be seen just as lost as UNbelieving Gentiles. Ans with that they would have to believe Paul’s “my gospel(Rom. 2:16) to besavedas UNbelieving (heathen) Gentiles’ through faith in Jesus as “the son of God.”

For 2,000 years under “the Law,” a Gentile had to be savedas a Jew’… under Israel’s Law program that included Gentiles taking Israel’s ‘circumcision.’ If a Gentile wanted to be saved and blessed of God, they had to come through Israel’s ‘Kingdom / Law program.’ At that time no other way of salvation existed for Gentiles. God had established this with the details of “the Law of Moses.”

Recall, that it was by implementing the Law” and circumcision that God had called and made Israel a unique people, separating them from among “the nations” (Gk. ethnos, the Gentiles), declaring the Nation Israel as ‘a peculiar treasure unto Me,’ a nation ‘set Above all people’ (Exo. 19:5-6; Deut. 32:8). God gave them circumcision as the mark of their relationship. But Now circumcision became irrelevant (read Rom. 2:25-29).

The outcome of the Acts 15 Jerusalem Counsel meeting is that James, Cephas (Peter), and John, formally ENDED Israel’s Law adherence requirement FOR THE GENTILES, since… now the Gentiles had their own Apostle, Paul (Rom. 11:13) with his new ‘100% pure Grace gospel(cf. Rom. 11:6). Paul wrote of the outcome of the Acts 15 meeting here in Gal. 2:8-9, which gives us more clarifying details.

“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision [Israel], the same was mighty in me [Paul] toward the GENTILES:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace [gospel message] that was given unto me [Paul], They Gave To Me And Barnabas The Right Hands of Fellowship; that WE SHOULD GO UNTO THE HEATHEN [the unbelieving Jews and unbelieving Gentiles], and THEY [Peter and company would now go] UNTO THE CIRCUMCISION [the already believing Israelites only] (Gal. 2:8-9 (KJV)

So, from Act 15 onward, all men were seen of God as Gentiles, including Jews. So any UNsaved Jews now had to Be Saved as UNsaved Gentiles, that is through faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This had become the ONLY God-sanctioned way of salvation for ALL Men. No longer during Acts could any man be saved under Israel’s, now set-aside, gospel of the kingdom.” For the Nation Israel had ‘fallen’ as seen in Rom. 11:10-12 ,15, 25.

The significance of this is staggering. This then explains Paul’s strong words to the Galatians in Gal. 1:6-9 (below) This could not have written prior to the Acts 15 Council of Jerusalem pronouncement.

“…  there be some [Jews] that trouble you [Gentiles], and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach Any Other Gospel unto you than that which we [Paul and company] have preached unto you, let him be accursed [banned]. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach ANY OTHER GOSPEL [including the ‘kingdom gospel’] unto you [Galatians] than that ye have received [from Paul], let him Be ACCURSED [banned from the assembly].” (Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV)

From Acts 15 onward, ONLY Paul’s ‘gospel of pure grace salvation’ was valid. God’s sanctioned turn of the age had begun as God turned from Israelto the Gentiles. This ‘turn’ was finalized with Paul’s words in Acts 28:28. “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.(read Acts 28:26-28).

Unbelieving Jews and UNbelieving Gentiles were both to be seen as UNbelieving lost Gentiles. The words preached by Jesus of Nazareth concerning not one jot or tittle passing” from… “the Law continued only with The ALREADY BELIEVING JEWS OF JERUSALEM until they all eventually Died Out.

Thus today, men are saved ONLY by FAITH alone in Paul’s gospel, which is that Christ as the Son of God, “died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). This is valid for BOTH UNsaved Jews and UNsaved Gentiles… to Believe and become Saved. Paul, in Galatians 1:6-9, says Any Other Gospel than Paul’s new Gentile gospel was now banned.’ Now the ONLY ‘salvation plan’ available is unto “ALL Men” and to be acquired by “faith [alone]” in ‘Christ ALONE.’ Only Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) was to be preached after Acts 15.

Thus, the mutual decision between Paul, Peter, James, and John at the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council Meeting was formally established concerning both Jews and Gentiles as recounted here by Paul in Gal. 2:9 (as seen in the KJV ONLY – NOTE that the NIV, NASB, ESV, etc. corrupt these verses).

“And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me [Paul], they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen [Gentiles], and they unto the circumcision [Israel only].” Galatians 2:9 (KJV)

With that Paul set out to change the world with His new gospel of faith in Christ alone for relationship with God. All religious requirements of Israel’s “Law” had been set aside in favor of faith alone in Christ alone. Later Paul would write;

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)

3. It is clear from the outcome of the Acts 15 Council Meeting, as seen in Gal. 2:8-9, that Peter and the leaders of Israel used “the keys of the kingdom” that Jesus gave Peter in Matt. 16:19 (below).

“And I [Jesus] will give unto thee [Peter] the Keys of The Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou Shalt BIND On Earth shall be bound in heaven: and Whatsoever Thou Shalt LOOSE On Earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19 (KJV).

Importantly, as result of the decision of the Acts 15 Council Meeting, … Peter used those keys to “bind” or limit the ministry of the Twelve Apostles To The Already Saved circumcised ‘Jews only,’ while … loosing’ Paul with his new gospel of the grace of God,” to go to All men” … ‘ALL’ meaning ALL the unsaved (heathen) of mankind…  that is both the UNbelieving Jews and UNbelieving Gentiles.

Peter had first used those keys Christ gave him to open the door to salvation for the unbelieving Jews under Jesus’ “Gospel of the Kingdom” on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and some were added to Jesus’ “little flock” among Israel (cf. Luke 12:32). But the Nation Israel by its leaders still rejected God and His Son.

Now with the Acts 15 decision, Peter was ‘binding’ or ‘limiting’ his own ministry. Hence after Acts 15, Peter and the Twelve did notgo into all the world’ preaching ‘the gospel of the kingdom,’ according to Jesus’ so-called ‘Great Commission.’ In fact, Jesus had prophesied of the Jewish “little flock” remnant’s limited, short-term, outreach saying their ministry would not get beyond Israel as seen here.

“Ye will not have gone over the cities of Israel until the Son of Man be come” at the close of the Tribulation (cf. Matt. 10:23).

Jesus’ so-called ‘Great Commission’ for Israel will one day be fulfilled after the Tribulation period in Millennial Kingdom, when the Believing Jews will serve as the “priests of God.”

4. Paul first ministered to the Gentiles at Antioch in Acts 13:42, well before the decided outcome of the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council (~AD51).

  • ALL of Paul’s ‘Acts Period’ letters were written AFTER the Acts 15 when Paul’s 100% Pure Grace Gospel was irrefutably established as the ONLY Way of Salvation for ‘ALL men’ as it is today.
  • Then after Acts, Paul in his POST-Acts epistles, discloses another teaching that the Lord of Heaven revealed to Him for the new Gentile Church that Paul calls the body of Christ(Eph. 4:12) which is already positionally “seated” … “Far above” “in the HEAVENLY places in Christ(Eph. 1:3, 21).

Only in Paul’s POST-Acts epistles of Eph, Philip, Col, 1 & 2 Tim, Titus do we learn of the ‘heavenly hope and calling of the Gentile Church ofthe Great Mystery (Eph. 5:32), which Paul calls “the body of Christ.”

ALL Christian doctrine for today’s dispensational age of “the grace of God” comes from the rightly divided” portions of Paul’s Acts period epistles that declare The Grace and Cross of Christ AND … his 7 POST-Acts epistles written AFTER the Acts Period closes with Acts 28.


We now can see why intelligized students of the Bible refer to The Book of Acts is as the ‘Fulcrum,’ ‘Hinge,’ or ‘Turning Point,’ as a most important ‘dispensational transition book” of the Bible.

Acts covers the tumultuous end of Israel’s dispensational age ofthe Law” and “promise,” ending only ‘temporarily.’ Thus the Acts ‘Law’ dispensation was succeeded by today’spure grace dispensation of the Pauline “Great Mystery(Eph. 5:32) of “the body of Christ” then revealed in Paul’s POST-Acts Epistles. Only there do we learn of the HEAVENLY hope and calling for ALL Men’ as Gentile who today grow to… hear, learn of, and believe, the Heavenly Hope of the “body of Christ.” Thus we today are now to be;

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 (KJV)

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in [Heaven’s] glory. Colossians 3:4 (KJV)

Luke wrote the Book of Acts to explain to the JewsWHY the Promised Kingdom Of God Had Not Yet Come to Israel on earth. What Luke recorded concerning the Acts 15 Jerusalem Counsel meeting fits with his primary purpose, providing the record of the Acts 7 stoning of Stephen as the initial “fall of Israel.

Paul’s Act-period Book of Romans explains the core doctrines of this age of the pure “gospel of the grace of God” covering the purpose of the cross that provides for our reconciliation, and “justification by faith.” This information is needed by the saved of all ages.

Much of what we read in Paul’s later POST-Acts 28 epistles may be seen as more or added revelation knowledge passed on by Paul in terms of further explanation and encouragement in the knowledge of the formerly secret and hidden relationalMystery of Christ. Paul wrote the Book of Romans around the time of Acts 20, saying;

“I am not ashamed of the gospel [of pure grace, cf. Rom. 11:6], for it is the ‘power of God for salvation’ to EVERYONE who BELIEVES, to the Jew first and also to the Greek [i.e., Gentile]” (Rom. 1:16 (KJV).

Note how that Paul went to “the Jew first” during the Acts period but not after Acts 28. During Acts, with each Jewish synagogue’s rejection of Paul’s message concerning Jesus as “the Son of God.” Paul said, lo, we turned to the Gentiles” (e.g., Acts 13:46). Luke confirms that Paul went to “the Jew first,” those who consistently rejected Paul’s grace gospel message toward All Men. The Nation of Israel, rejected Paul’s word beginning with Acts 13:46, and then after Acts 15 in Acts 18:5-6 and 28:26-29. Even still, even as late as Acts 28:20, Paul, in chains, was serving “the hope of Israel” … that they might receive the King and His Kingdom come on earth.

From Paul’s first preaching of Acts 13 and for 3 years UNTIL the decision of the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council Meeting, a Jew could believe and be saved by believing EITHER of the two ongoing gospels.

1) A Jew could be saved under Jesus’ “the gospel of the Kingdom” as preached by the Twelve Apostles who were sent by Jesus only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel (cf. Matt. 10:5-6).

2) Or, a Jew could believe and be saved under Paul’s new gospel for “ALL men,” without racial distinction (cf. Gal. 3:28).

Jesus’s “gospel of the kingdom” was offered in His earthly ministry to his earthly people of the Nation Israel ONLY (Matt. 15:24, Matt. 10:5-6). Those Jews who believed the “gospel of the kingdom” then had an earthly hope to dwell On Earth with Christ in the kingdom. This gospel was offered to “Ye men of Israel” by Peter and then by the Twelve Apostles during the EARLY Acts period, until the decision of the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council meeting. Yet, we know the faithful saved of Israel under “the Gospel of the kingdom” will one day “reign” on earth in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, and then forever on “the new earth” (Rev. 5:10, 20:6).

It was only for that relatively brief 3or 4-year period (from AD 47), … until the decision of the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council meeting that there was TWO different but Valid Gospels being preached.

  1. The 12 Apostles preached Jesus’gospel of the Kingdom,” that Jesus is both “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36) to the UNbelieving Jews.

But the decision of Galatians 2:9 ended the solicitation of UNbelieving Jews by Jesus’ 12 Apostles. After Acts 15 they had agreed to restrict their ministry and serve God only within the sphere of the Already Believing Jews of Israel’s believing “little flock.”

  1. During Acts Paul went to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles declaring to both from the Scriptures that “Jesus was Christ (i.e., the Savior’). Paul preached Jesus Christ as the Son of God” and salvation by faith in Him. This salvation was entirely divorced from any Jewish external religious ‘Law’ requirements.

Then AFTER the Acts 15, per Gal. 2:9, it was clear that ONLY Paul’s Grace Gospel was valid, being preached in solicitation of believers from among “ALL MEN.” There was now ‘NO RACIAL DISTINCTION’ as ALL Men were now considered Gentiles.

“Where there is neither Greek [i.e., Gentile] nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11 (KJV)

Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) could then save men of “All Races including Jews.  Thus Galatians 2:9 bears repeating since it marks such a significant declaration.

“And when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace [message] that was given unto me [Paul],

they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen [i.e., the Gentiles],

and they unto the circumcision [the Israel’s “little flock” believers].” Galatians 2:9 (KJV)

Paul’s POST-Acts epistles apply to the HEAVEN-bound “faithful” of the Gentile “body of Christ” who have heard, perceive, understand, and believe, so as to have their ‘hope’ in a ‘Heavenly Calling (Titus 2:13). God thereby gets “His Inheritance” (Ephesians 1:15-18) in the Gentile “Church, which is His body” which will co-reign with Christ “in the heavenly places,” (Eph. 1:3) “far above a principality and power” (Eph. 1:21). Thus Paul prayed as follows for the Ephesian saints;

[I Paul] Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the Knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your Understanding being Enlightened; [so] that ye may Know what is the Hope of his Calling [upon us], and what the riches of the glory of HIS INHERITANCE in the saints,” Ephesians 1:15-18 (KJV)

Paul’s gospel of “the grace of God” (Acts 13:43, 20:24) that is for ALL men AND Paul’s latter “revelation of the Mystery (Rom. 16:25), as explained in his POST-Acts epistles, were both REVEALED to Paul by the ascended Christ in ‘His heavenly or celestial ministry.’

What do you have your faith in?

  1. Faith in Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 24:20) and the Acts period epistles and doctrine that Paul then preached “to the Jew first” … gets you saved into “The Kingdom” to Come ON EARTH with Israel at Christ’s 2nd coming,” at the close of the Tribulation period.
  2. Some believers have also come to additional ‘faith’ in Paul’s added POST-Acts revelation of the mystery [Gk. musterion, secret] (Rom. 16:25 a Post-Script) concerning “His body” that is destined for HEAVEN. Paul explains this in his Post-Acts epistles of Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus. Faith therein gets you into “The Heavenly Places In Christwhere we then enjoy the Heavenly blessings of Eph. 1:3.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual Blessings In Heavenly Places in Christ:” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV)

After the Acts 15 Council meeting at Jerusalem, ALL Men of ALL Races could be saved ONLY by believing Paul’s gospel of the grace of Godfor All Men, including Jews who are now seen as being Gentiles.’

There are those who are not only saved by Free Gift Of Grace through faith (cf. Rom. 5:15, 18) in Paul’s Acts period gospel of the grace of God,” (Acts 20:24) but … they ALSO have come to read and believe Paul’s now revealed POST-ACTS EphesianMYSTERY [secret]” of “the body of Christ.” They are destined to “appear with Him [Christ] in HEAVEN’s glory(Col. 3:4) … some will then to co-reign with Him in heaven (cf. 2 Tim. 2:12). Thus we believe;

“When Christ, who is our life, shall APPEAR, then shall ye also APPEAR WITH HIM in [heaven’s] glory.” (Col. 3:4)

As believing members of “His body” during today’s Post-Acts age of “the Mystery,” it is now for us;

“… To Make ALL Men See What Is The Fellowship of The Mystery [the formerly secret plan of God concerning ‘the body of Christ’], which … Hath Been Hid In God, …” (Eph. 3:9 (KJV).