Acts 15:6-12 (NLTse)
So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue.
This matter of wether the Gentiles who were being converted must also be circumcised and obey the law of Moses to be saved, was the very reason why the first council called the Jerusalem council was convened to discuss. The question was that should non Jews or Gentiles, convert to Judaism before they can be saved. In other words, should non Jews or Gentiles over and above their salvation by grace through faith, also obey the law of Moses to be saved. In a nudshell, the question was, is salvation, by grace through faith only or by grace through faith plus the works of the law.
7 At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows:“Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe.
Peter here is referring to the time when God told him to go and preach to Cornelius a Centurion who was a Gentile or non Jew and his household. Peter told them that the reason why God did that was so that if this Gentiles, whom Cornelius and his household were, if they hear the good news, that they must believe. Peter told them, it was a simple task, preach to the Gentiles or non Jews so that on hearing the good news, they can believe. The good news here refers to:
Acts 10:36 (NLTse)
This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Peter told Cornelius as well about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and what it means. To read more about what Peter told them go to Acts 10:34-43. Peter reminds them that he was called to go and preach the good news to the Gentiles so that on hearing, they can believe.
8 God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith.
Peter then told them, our God who knows the inner thoughts of man, saw that these Gentiles have accepted the good news and in their hearts, they have believed, God confirmed that he accepts the Gentiles by giving them the same Holy Spirit that he gave to us and in the same manner. Peter went on to say, through their faith in Jesus, through their belief, God cleansed their hearts. Now, Jews believed that because of how Gentiles lived, they were not pure, they were defiled by their way of living. So, here Peter told them that, through their faith, only their faith, they were made clean.
What is Peter saying here, Peter is saying that he was send to preach to the Gentiles. He did, they believed, recieved the Holy Spirit and were cleansed not by doing anything else but by their faith. Peter is saying, they were not circumcised, they did not even know let alone obey the law of Moses. Only by their faith, were they cleansed. Where was circumcision then, where was the law of Moses then?
10 So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?
The word “yoke” in Greek is the word “zugos”, here is used figuratively to denote severe precepts or regulation or to denote bondage or slavery. Peter then asked them why they are challenging God by burdening the Gentiles with severe laws of Moses that even they as Jews and their forefathers, could not bear.
Peter saws this requirement of the Gentiles to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses as a direct challenge to God. Why? Because if God can accept the Gentiles only because they believed, why do the Jews think that they can add to the requirements that God did not include. Peter was saying if God wanted the Gentiles to be circumcised and to obey the law of Moses, he would have done that but, he did not and so why must we add if he did not.
Peter told them that it is not only challenging God to require Gentiles to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses but it also does not make sense to expect the Gentiles to comply with the laws of Moses that they as Jews could not even comply with.
In summary, Peter told them that God accepted the Gentiles by their faith in Jesus apart from the law and apart from circumcision. They recieved the same Holy Spirit as we did. To put a requirement that Gentiles must be circumcised and obey the law, is a direct challenge to God.
11 We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
Peter says just like the Gentiles were saved by grace of God through faith in Jesus apart from circumcision and apart from the law of Moses, we (referring to them as Jewish Christians), we believe as well that we are also saved, THE SAME WAY AS GENTILES, by the undeserved grace of The Lord Jesus. Grace means an undeserved favor. Now, see how Peter uses undeserved undeserved favor. Peter is really stressing the fact that this grace is completely undeserved. This in my view refers to the fact that they simply struggled to comply with the law of Moses hence he calls it a yoke. Peter knew that if salvation was achieved through compliance to the law of Moses, then, they were doomed. This is the reason why he stresses the undeserved undeserved favor of God through Jesus by faith. Peter told them that even them as Jewish Christians were not saved by the law but by the underseved grace through faith in Jesus.
12 Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
Paul and Barnabas also gave testimony.