Review of Acts 15

Review of Acts 15

by Pastor Temilolu Oluwasijuwomi

Chapter so loaded!

Vs 11 TLB Don’t you believe that all are saved the same way, by the free gift of the Lord Jesus?”

Salvation is a free gift from God and is obtained by believing with faith and should be preached as such.

24 NKJV Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—

We must ensure we preach the gospel of grace purely as it is balanced already.

Vs 26 TLB These men—Judas and Silas, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ—will confirm orally what we have decided concerning your question.

In GOG we have such men here who will go any length to share the gospel of grace with all and make sure people understand the gospel. Will you be part of the train who will risk all for the gospel of grace to spread abroad?

It is a stable day for us

We grow more in knowledge of Christ

We are more committed to the gospel of Jesus in Jesus Holy name.



Have you ever witnessed people arguing on the subject of Grace and Law?

‘Mr. Grace’: …salvation is not by your works…salvation is simply by the Grace of God…

‘Mr. Law’: ….heresy!!! How can you say you are saved forever only by Grace? You must be righteous if you must enter Heaven…!!!

‘Mr. Grace’: …. Haven’t you read Ephesians chapter 2? ….For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…Not of works, lest any man should boast…

‘Mr. Law’: …. do you read your Bible at all? Haven’t you read that ….he that endures to the end shall be saved? (Matt 24:13) …

And the argument goes on and on…

As you can see from the above, both parties have personal convictions in their scriptural knowledge influencing their individual stands!

So what PREFERRED CONCLUSION would you choose?


I feel it is highly comforting for us to know that …’no be today dis kind argument don start…’

Even the Apostles in the Bible had a strong argument on this!

Now my question is this: …if their argument eventually had a ‘conclusion’….would you go with the Apostles’ conclusion?


If truly you are a believer, then your answer should be YES! And If ‘yes’, then let’s quickly take a brief look at the “Apostles’ Argument”.

This was well recorded in Acts 15.


‘…And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, EXCEPT YE BE CIRCUMCISED AFTER THE MANNER OF MOSES, YE CANNOT BE SAVED…’ (Acts 15:1)

Does this look like the common arguments on Law and Grace?

Sure it is!

It is a Jewish believe that a proof of allegiance to keep the Old Testament laws is to be ‘…circumcised after the manner of Moses…’!

‘…every man that is circumcised … is a debtor TO DO THE WHOLE LAW…’ (Gal 5:3)

In fact, verse 5 of Acts 15 explained that the argument was that every believer cannot just claim he is saved without fulfilling the Laws of Moses! Every believer must be ‘…commanded to keep the Law of Moses.’ (Acts 15:5)

Do you now understand?

For you information; There are 613 laws of Moses including the Ten Commandments!

Let’s go on!

Vs 2 of Acts 15 says: ‘…When THEREFORE PAUL AND BARNABAS HAD NO SMALL DISSENSION AND DISPUTATION WITH THEM, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question…’


In case the words ‘dissension and disputation’ seems like a big grammar to you….they simply mean STRONG ARGUMENTS!

So you see that this argument has been there since Bible days!

Vs 5 and 6 of Acts 15 explains that this argument continued even among the APOSTLES!!!

‘…And the APOSTLES AND ELDERS came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been MUCH DISPUTING…’


‘Much disputing’?

I could almost hear their arguments while studying the Bible:

‘…Once saved is not forever saved…never…they must fulfil the law with full validity of outward display of righteousness before you can say they are saved…’

And Paul and Barnabas replying:

‘…what are you guys saying? If they have to fulfil any law to be saved, why then would Jesus have to come to die for them…?’


Can you hear it too?


Let’s go on!


After a long argument, Peter stood up to speak. Now, if you don’t mind, I will highlight his relatively long conversation and I want you to read carefully:

 ‘…Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should HEAR THE WORD OF THE GOSPEL, AND BELIEVE. And God, which knoweth the hearts, BARE THEM WITNESS, GIVING THEM THE HOLY GHOST, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, PURIFYING THEIR HEARTS BY FAITH. Now therefore WHY TEMPT YE GOD, TO PUT A YOKE UPON THE NECK OF THE DISCIPLES, WHICH NEITHER OUR FATHERS NOR WE WERE ABLE TO BEAR…’ (Acts 15:7-10)

Did you see that?

That is Apostle Peter!

He was careful to point out the following:

– Salvation is simply by HEARING AND BELIEVING the Gospel.

– Any saved person has the HOLY SPIRIT as a sealed gift.

– To be ‘pure in heart’ in the new dispensation is simply by FAITH! (Remember, blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God. Matt 5:8)

– Putting the Law as a requirement to be saved is equal to (a) TEMPTING GOD (b) Putting a YOKE on the NECK of the disciples

– The Law can NEVER be fulfilled by any man (not even our Old Testament fathers).


I hope you are seeing this?

Now see his conclusion in the next verse:

 ‘…But we believe that THROUGH THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST we shall be saved, even as they…’ (Acts 15:11)


What a powerful conclusion!!!

Peter was simply saying: ‘…it is the same GRACE OF CHRIST that will save both we who are trying to fulfil the Law and these believers who are not under the Law…’!

In fact the next verse says:

‘…Then all the multitude kept silence…’ (Acts 15:12)


This conclusion should SILENCE ALL arguments concerning the salvation of believers by Grace. Except you want to say Apostle Peter must be ‘very wrong’! That was the Apostles’ conclusion?

…and that is my own conclusion! What is your own PREFERRED CONCLUSION? The choice is up to you!


Let me introduce you to a brother called ‘John Mark’.

The early believers do gather for prayers at the house of Brother John Mark’s mother. (Acts 12:12). Brother John Mark also happened to be the cousin of Paul’s co-apostle named Barnabas. (Col 4:10). When Apostles ‘Paul and Barnabas’ were to embark on their first missionary journey, they took Brother John Mark along with them for the work of the ministry. (Acts 13:5)


During that missionary journey, the apostles encountered a sorcerer who was using evil spiritual powers/charms to obstruct a ‘deputy governor’ from believing the gospel Paul was preaching to him.

It was so serious that when Paul discovered what the sorcerer was doing, (probably using his charmed eyes to get the deputy distracted), he had to declared a short-timed ‘blindness’ on the sorcerer before the deputy Governor could hear them out and also believe the gospel. (Acts 13:6-12)


Brother John Mark witnessed all these warfare and tussle of power that happened between the apostles and the sorcerer.

The next verse simply explained what he did…which any logical human would do:

‘…From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, WHERE JOHN LEFT THEM TO RETURN TO JERUSALEM…’ (Acts 13:13)


What if you found yourself in John mark’s shoe?

The way the verses flowed together gives a quick clue that John Mark most probably departed from the apostles after witnessing what happened between Paul and the Sorcerer in Paphos.

Brother John Mark must have been like: ‘…I cannot come and go and kill myself on this evangelism thing o…see how a wizard was controlling a deputy governor’s mind…what if he now come and strike me?…’


Brother John Mark could have also left for other various reasons which included the uncomfortable stress of travelling ‘through the whole island until they came to Paphos’ (Acts 13:6 NIV), or the sudden continues movement from his native ‘Jewish region’ to travel further and further into ‘gentile regions’ (Paphos and Pamphylia) knowing the kind of danger and persecution they were liable to! (Acts 13:13)


Sometime later, after Paul and Barnabas had returned from their first journey, Paul expressed a desire to go back to the brothers in the cities they had previously visited to see how everyone was doing (Acts 15:36).

Barnabas agreed, but only on one condition: THEY MUST TAKE BROTHER JOHN MARK along with them! (Acts 15:37)


Paul refused ‘sharperly’!

‘…But Paul DISAGREED STRONGLY, since John Mark HAD DESERTED THEM in Pamphylia and HAD NOT CONTINUED WITH THEM in their work.…’ (Acts 15:38 NLT)


The author of the book of Acts is ‘Luke’. If Paul were to be the writer and was to report this statement himself, he would have most probably used the same language he used for Demas in 2Tim 4:10:

‘…For JOHN MARK hath forsaken me, having loved ‘HIMSELF OVER THE GOSPEL’, and is departed unto Jerusalem…’


It was a serious matter because Barnabas really understood the error of John Mark and wanted him to follow them for their next mission….but Paul STRONGLY DISAGREED!

In fact, Paul and Barnabas SEPARATED simply because of this John Mark’s Matter!

‘…Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated…’ (Acts 15:39)

It was that serious!



Concerning Demas…

Once some folks hear that you say, ‘a believer can never lose his salvation’, they will just rush to the story of Demas and tell you:

‘…even Demas lost his salvation…and you are misleading people that they can’t lose their salvation…be careful with leading people into error…’

At times, I just wonder whether some people carry their Bible in an ‘up-side-down’ position whenever they want to read it!

Here is the verse these people run to whenever they want to dilute the gospel with the story of Demas:

‘…For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…’ (2Tim 4:10)

But what some people read in this verse is:

‘…For Demas hath forsaken CHRIST, having loved this present world, and is departed unto HELLalonica…’

How will someone read this verse and just say Demas lost his salvation!


Similarly, it will be a great level of foolishness for someone to come and say JOHN MARK LOST HIS SALVATION because he deserted Paul for whatever selfish interest apart from the gospel!

That is the annoying conclusion many people who don’t understand ‘salvation’ just jump to!


Please don’t judge Brother John Mark yet!

He had a good heart. He loved the furtherance of the gospel. He had zeal to work with the apostles.

But his humanity simply overcame him and he had to ‘run back’ home.

Keep following carefully.

Remember Paul and Barnabas SEPARATED simply because of this John Mark’s Matter!

‘…Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated…’ (Acts 15:39)

Paul took SILAS (where the popular song ‘paul and silas’ came from)…in place of John Mark! (Acts 15:39-40)

…it was obvious that at this point, Paul was done with Brother John Mark! But God was not done with Brother John Mark!

Now, something surprising happened later!

Some YEARS later, Paul wrote a letter to Philemon and I was surprised to see what he wrote in verse 24 of Philemon chapter1:

‘…Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings, SO DO MARK…and Luke, MY FELLOW LABOURERS…’ (Philemon 1:24)


Did Paul just call JOHN MARK one of his FELLOW WORKERS!!!

Something has happened over the years.

Paul had noted that though he was done with John Mark, God was NEVER done with John Mark!

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul mentioned John Mark as one of the Jewish co-workers ‘…which have been a comfort unto me…’ (Col 4:11)


In fact, would you believe that towards the end of Paul’s ministry, Paul would tell timothy to do something like this?

‘…Take MARK, and bring him with thee: FOR HE IS PROFITABLE TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY…’ (2Tim 4:11)




John Mark never lost his SALVATION with God!

He only lost his COMPANION with Paul!

Who would believe that Brother John Mark will receive that kind of commendation from Paul of all people!



Now let us return to the actual story that this post is about…Brother DEMAS.

Demas had also been following Paul in the work of the ministry! (Philemon 1:24)

In fact, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul mentioned only 3 GENTILE co-labourers who were with him and sending their greetings too:

‘…Epaphras… Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you…’ (Col 4:14)

So Demas was there for Paul at this point when he was in captivity for the Gospel sake.

But as time went on, the persecution got tougher!

This time around, God had even showed Paul that this coming persecution will take his life!

It was in the context of that great revelation that Paul mentioned what Demas did!

Read carefully:

 ‘…For I am now ready to be offered, and THE TIME OF MY DEPARTURE IS AT HAND. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: FOR DEMAS HATH FORSAKEN ME, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…’ (2Tim 4:6-10)


Can you remember that John Mark was also guilty of this same thing!

‘…John Mark HAD DESERTED THEM in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work…’ (Acts 15:38 NLT)

The Message Bible puts it in a more interesting way:

‘…AS SOON AS THE GOING GOT TOUGH, (John Mark) had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia…’ (Acts 15:38 MSG)

From the flow of the context in which Paul mentioned Demas, it is highly evident that Demas left Paul when he noticed the coming heat of the persecution which he couldn’t bear!

Paul said Demas ‘…is departed unto Thessalonica…’ (2Tim 4:10)

Some commentaries have it that Thessalonica was probably the native home land of Demas.

If so, this guy simply went home the very way John Mark went home to Jerusalem too when the GOING GOT TOUGHER!

Does that mean Demas has lost his salvation??? And

Does that mean John Mark has lost his salvation too???

This story has NOTHING to do with the SALVATION OF DEMAS the same way it has NOTHING to do with the SALVATION OF JOHNMARK!

Paul was simply talking about a man who couldn’t stand strong with him in Persecution!

In fact, you will be surprised who Paul mentioned in the next verse to replace Demas!

 ‘…For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. TAKE MARK, AND BRING HIM WITH THEE: for he is profitable to me for the ministry…’ (2Tim 4:10-11)

It was a ‘loser’ who had now composed his boldness that was replacing another ‘loser’!

It is a high level of stupidity to place the salvation of Demas on line here simply because he couldn’t bear the coming persecution!

As in, according to the writings of ‘Eusebius’, an early church historian, Paul was ‘BEHEADED’ in this persecution!

Most people who mention Demas anyhow would have done worse than what Demas did!

They would have left earlier!!!

And please the fact that Paul said Demas ‘loved this present world’ does not necessarily mean he started going to all the prostitutes around!

That is a very carnal way of thinking.

I love how Albert Barnes Commentary explains that verse:

‘…Having loved this present world – This does not mean, necessarily, that he was an avaricious man, or that, in itself, he loved the honors or wealth of this world; but IT MEANS THAT HE DESIRED TO LIVE. He was not willing to stay with Paul, and subject himself TO THE PROBABILITIES OF MARTYRDOM; and, in order to secure his life, he departed TO A PLACE OF SAFETY. The Greek is, ἀγαπὴσας τὸν νὺν αἰῶνα agapēsas ton nun aiōna – having loved the world that now is; that is, this world as it is, with all its cares, and troubles, and comforts; HAVING DESIRED TO REMAIN IN THIS WORLD, rather than to go to the other…’


This has NOTHING to do with either the SALVATION of John Mark or that of Demas!

If Demas had been saved initially, he has been saved ETERNALLY!

Just like John mark, Demas never lost his SALVATION with God!

He only lost his or their COMPANION with Paul!

The highest that will happen to him is that he would lose eternal rewards!

That was what Paul was referring to!

‘…Henceforth there is laid up for me A CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also THAT LOVE HIS APPEARING. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having LOVED THIS PRESENT WORLD…’

In this context, ‘loving his appearing’ is put in contrast to ‘loving this present world’! ‘Loving his appearing’ here means being ready to be a MATYR for the gospel sake! While ‘loving this present world’ here means not willing to be subjected to the probabilities of martyrdom!

The reward for martyrdom is a CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!

Salvation is NOT a reward…but there are REWARDS that follows salvation! (Heb 6:9-10)

And the same way Brother John Mark received boldness to willingly stand great persecution, don’t be fast to write Brother Demas off too!

The Bible didn’t ‘directly’ tell us any other thing about him especially after the death of Paul, but he could have bounced back in his bold stand for the gospel!

In fact, according to ‘Matthew Poole’s commentary’ and ‘Gill’s Expository commentary’ on 2Timothy 4:10, they revealed that there is a varied belief that Demas is the short name for ‘Demetrius’…and was probably the one mentioned in 3John 1:12 with this commendation:

‘…Demetrius hath GOOD REPORT OF ALL MEN, and of THE TRUTH ITSELF: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true…’ (3John 1:12)


I hope with this light, folks who always use the story of Demas to explain a believer losing his salvation will learn to keep quiet and stop equating the ‘salvation of God’ with the ‘companion of Paul’.

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