I. "CAN ANY MAN FORBID WATER, THAT THESE SHOULD NOT BE BAPTIZED?"
A. Up to this point the church in Jerusalem, of which Peter was a part, were not willing to bring Gentiles into the church through baptism.
1. It should be noted that the Samaritans received Christ when Philip shared with them, and they were baptized by Philip.
2. The church had sent Peter and John that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
3. Philip had baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch.
a. But Jesus had already partially opened the door to the Samaritans when He preached to them after meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, and they were considered half Jews.
b. The Ethiopian eunuch was probably a proselyte into the Jewish faith. He had come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and was reading the Isaiah scroll.
c. There were many Ethiopian proselytes to Judaism who could probably be traced back to the queen of Sheba who came to visit Solomon.
d. But these in Caesarea were out and out Gentiles, and there was a real reluctance to accept them into the church or even to believe that they could be saved.
4. Their receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit by a divine sovereign move of the Spirit seemed to have settled that issue.
B. This seems to affirm that the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit was even as Peter had declared back in chapter
2."Repent and be baptized in name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for this promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
1. The promise seems to be all inclusive as far as time and nationality went.
2. All that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
C. So Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
1. Note that Peter evidently did not baptize them himself but commanded that they should be baptized.
2. Those Jews who came with Peter probably were the ones to baptize them.
3. It is interesting that though Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it appears that Jesus Himself did not baptize, but the disciples did the baptizing.
When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
4. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he thanked God that he did not baptize any of them but Crispus and Gaius, and those of the household of Stephanus, and if there were any others he could not remember them.
D. There has been some controversy raised by those who love to raise controversy and sow discord among brethren, and unfortunately there seem to be many of that ilk, but these folk love to argue over the baptismal formula.
1. Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
2. They point out that in Acts we do not find this formula being mentioned, but that it says that they baptized in the name of the Lord, or the name of the Lord Jesus.
3. There argument is: Father is not a name, Son is not a name, Holy Spirit is not a name, Lord is not a name. Jesus is the name.
4. Thus, they baptize in the name of Jesus only.
5. Their danger lies in the fact that they come to young converts who have just been baptized and ask by what formula they were baptized and if the convert answers, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then they confuse them by telling them that their baptism was not valid, that they need to be rebaptized.
E. Like most theological arguments it is worthless, and immaterial. When you start quibbling over words you usually miss the main point, which is to be identified with Jesus in death, burial, and resurrection.
II. "AND THE APOSTLES AND BRETHREN THAT WERE IN JUDAEA HEARD THAT THE GENTILES HAD ALSO RECEIVED THE WORD OF GOD."
A. In a small country word travels fast.
1. It didn't take long for the word to get back to Jerusalem that Peter had taken the gospel to the Gentiles.
2. That Peter had even entered into the home of a Gentile.
3. That the Gentiles had received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and had been baptized.
B. By the time Peter got back to Jerusalem the news had already preceded him, and there were those who were waiting for him to contend with him. To call him on the carpet so to speak. We read, "And they contended with him."
1. Why do you suppose that when God is working it seems that there are always those who want to contend with or challenge what God has led you to do?
2. Like those in Jerusalem, they seek to protect their own little territory for personal or selfish interests.
3. I have noted that they are not usually the most devoted followers of the Lord, you rarely find them in prayer meetings.
4. Yet they want to challenge every decision that the Lord has led you to make.
C. They who were of the circumcision.
1. This was a phrase that identified the strict legalists.
a. Those who believed that salvation was only for Jews.
b. Thus if you wanted to be saved, you had to become a Jew.
c. There were many such believers in the church in Jerusalem.
2. This issue had to be later dealt with by a general church council, but was never fully settled.
a. In chapter 15 certain men from the church in Jerusalem came to the Gentile church in Antioch and declaring themselves to have the authority of the church in Jerusalem began to demand that the Gentile believers be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be saved.
b. Paul and Barnabas took them back to Jerusalem in order that the Apostles might get a clear understanding as to the relationship the Gentile believers had to the law.
c. After Peter, Paul and Barnabas gave their witness of the work of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles, it was determined that Gentiles could be saved, apart from the law. There was no need to circumcise the Gentiles or try to make Jews out of them for them to be saved.
3. When Paul wrote to the Galatians he mentioned the problem that had come in the church in Antioch and their going to the Jewish council.
Then fourteen years after my first visit to Jerusalem I went up again with Barnabas, and I took Titus with [me] also.
And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
I went to Jerusalem because of false brethren who came in secretly to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, so they could bring us into bondage:
To whom we did not submit, no, not for a minute; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
But of these who seemed to be the big shots, (whatsoever they were, it makes no difference to me: God accepts no man's person:) for they who seemed [to be somewhat] in conference added nothing to me:
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as [the gospel] of the circumcision [was] unto Peter;
(For he that worked effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was anxious to do.
But when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was at fault.
For before certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If you, being a Jew, live after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
4. It seems that this issue was never fully resolved in the church in Jerusalem. For when Paul returned years later with an offering from the Gentile churches, for the poor church in Jerusalem, he came before the council.
And when he had greeted them, he declared the particulars of the things that God had been doing among the Gentiles by his ministry.
And when they heard [it], they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, You can see brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
And they have been informed, that you teach all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise [their] children, neither to walk after the customs.
What is it therefore? the multitude will be coming together: for they will hear that you have come.
We therefore ask that you do this; We have four men which have taken a vow,
Take them and go through the purification rites with them, and cover their expenses that they might shave their heads and everyone will know that the things they have heard about you are nothing. But that you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law.
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written [and] concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from [things] offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
5. This is one of those places where Paul said that he had become all things to all men, that he might gain the more. To the Jew he became as a Jew.
D. Paul wrote, "Live peaceably with all men as much as is possible." He lived by this rule.
1. For the sake of peace, he complied to their request but the consequences were tragic for Paul personally.
2. The work of God has often been hindered because of a desire to compromise with the demands of contentious brothers.
3. Paul tells us that we should examine ourselves, for if we will judge ourselves, we would not be judged by God.