Paul is at odds with Pharisaic believers over Gentiles: how are they saved? Do they need to embrace the whole Torah and get circumcised?
15:6 Both the apostles and the elders met together to deliberate about this matter. 15:7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that some time ago God chose me to preach to the Gentiles so they would hear the message of the gospel and believe. 15:8 And God, who knows the heart, has testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 15:9 and he made no distinction between them and us, cleansing their hearts by faith. 15:10 So now why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 15:11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they are.”
Peter’s essential points:
1. Peter’s experience of preaching the gospel — and he did this because of a dream vision from God — is that God has granted the Spirit to the Gentiles by faith, and not by way of circumcision. God makes no distinctions. Who are we to remake distinctions — this sounds like Galatians 2:15-21.
2. His next line is so important: “So now why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?” That is: Peter is saying that we Jews could not be saved the Torah either. It was a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors could bear. He blames Jewish disobedience, not the limitation of the Torah.
3. Question: Do you think Peter is saying that he, Peter, is no longer following Torah? Or is he saying that they are no longer trying to be saved by keeping the Torah?
4. Peter says that he — a Jew — is saved by the same means as the Gentiles: “through the grace of the Lord Jesus.”