James and John original 12 disciples of Jesus
12:2. James and John were two of the original 12 disciples who followed Jesus. They had asked Jesus for special recognition in his kingdom(Mark 20:35-40). Jesus said that to be a part of Of his kingdom would mean suffering with Jesus(drink from the same cup- Mark 10:38,39). James and John did indeed suffer – Herod executed James, and later John was exile for (see Rev. 1:9).
12:2-11. Why did God allow James to die and yet miraculously save Peter? Life is full of difficult questions like this. Why is one child physically disabled and another child athletically gifted? Why do people die seemingly before realising their potential? These are questions we cannot possibly answer In this life because we do not see all that God sees. He has chosen to allow evil in this world for a time. But we can trust God’s leading because he has promised to destroy all evil eventually. In the meantime, we know that God will help us use our suffering to strengthen us and glorify him. For more on this question, see the notes. (Job 1).
12:7 – God sent an angel to rescue Peter. Angels are God’s messengers. They are divinely created beings with super natural powers, and they sometimes take on human appearance in order to talk to people. Angels should not be worshiped, because they are not divine. They are God’s servants, just as we are.
12:14-15. The prayer of the group of believers were answered, even as they prayed. But when the answer arrived at the door, they didn’t believe it. We should be people of faith who believe that God answers the prayers of those who seek his will. When you pray, believe you’ll get an answer. And when the answer comes, don’t be surprised, be thankful.
13:2,3 – This was the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey. The church was involved in sending Paul and Barnabas, but it was God’s plan. Why did Paul and Barnabas go where they did? (1). The Holy Spirit led them. (2). They followed the communication routes of the Roman Empire —this made travel easier.(3) They visited key population and cultural centres to reach as many people as possible, (4) they went to cities with synagogues, speaking first to the Jews in hopes that they would see Jesus as the Messiah and help spread the Good News to everyone.
13:46 – Why was it neccssary for the gospel to go first to the Jews? God planned that through theJewish nation all the world would come to know God (Gen.12:3). Paul, a Jew himself, loved his people(Rom.9:1-5) and wanted to give them every opportunity to join him in proclaiming God’s salvation. Unfortunately, many Jews did not recognise Jesus as Messiah, and they did not understand that God was offering salvation to anyone, Jews and Gentile , who comes to him through faith in Christ.
14:23 – Part of the reason that PAul and Barnabas risked their lives to return to these cities was to organise the churches’ leadership. They were not just following up on a loosely knit group, they were helping the believers get organised with spiritual leaders who could help them grow. Churches grow under spirit-led leaders, both lay-persons and pastors. Pray for your church leaders and support them, and if God puts his finger on you, humbly accept the responsibility of a leadership role in your church.
15:2. It is helpful to see how the churches in Antioch and Jerusalem resolves their conflict.(1) the church in Antioch sent a delegation to help seek a solution.,(2) the delegates met with the church leaders to give their reports and set another date to continue the discussion. (3). PAul and Barnabas gave their report, (4) James summarised the reports and drew up the decision, (5) everyone agreed to abide by the decision, (6)the council sent a letter with delegates back to Antioch to report the decision.
15:22. Apostleship was not a church office but a position and function based on specific gifts. Elders were appointed to lead and manage the church. In this meeting, apostles submitted to the judgement of an elder —James, Jesus’ brother.