The reading from Acts is our focus today as we celebrate the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.
Some men that had formerly been members of the sect of the Pharisees had been overcome by the evidence of the Gospel and had accepted Jesus in true faith. But some of their former ideas concerning the necessity of keeping the Law persisted. These now arose in the meeting and stated with great emphasis their opinion, namely, that it was absolutely necessary for all the converts among the Gentiles to be circumcised and to observe the Law of Moses, that is, the ceremonial law, as it concerned the people of God in the Old Testament. It is the same false and dangerous doctrine which has cropped up in the Church at all times, namely, that the keeping of the Law is essential for meriting salvation.
There was a heated debate with many pointed questions, the Pharisaic party insisting upon having its opinions accepted. But after this discussion had been going on for some time, Peter arose and took the floor. He referred to the demonstration given by the Lord in the case of Cornelius. At that time God, who knows the hearts and minds of all men, [Acts] chap. 1:24, had borne testimony in favor of the Gentiles, by giving them the Holy Ghost, just as He had given Him to the apostles and the other Jewish disciples. God had made no distinction, no discrimination between Jews and Gentiles, but had given to the latter the full purity of heart by faith. Though they were uncircumcised, the Spirit had been granted them, just as well as to those of the circumcision.
Since these things were true, Peter argues, why should they tempt God, why should they put Him to the proof, why should they try out His patience and forbearance, by an intimation as though He had admitted unworthy members into His Church? Why should they want to lay upon the necks of these people, whom God had admitted without the Jewish rite, a yoke, the yoke of the ceremonial law, which neither their fathers nor they themselves had been able to bear?
The arguments of Peter were unanswerable and caused the opponents to become and remain silent. Moreover, the general debate was not again resumed, for now Barnabas and Paul took the floor, and the entire multitude listened to them as they narrated how many and how great signs and miracles God had performed among the heathen through them.
Devotional reading is from Popular Commentary of the Bible: New Testament, Volume 1, page 608 © 1921 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Merciful and kind are You, O Lord of hosts, because you have sent the Gospel of Your Son to us Gentiles. Our fathers went to worship idols as they were led, but to us, their children, You have sent the light, though we deserved it not. Cause it to dwell richly with our children and us, and by Your Spirit make it to grow in our hearts and bring fruit unto eternal life. Amen.
Prayer is from Concordia Psalter, page 57 © 2015 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.