After preaching the gospel at Antioch it is said there arose a group from Judaea disputing with Paul and Barnabus about circumcision

KJV Acts 15 : 1

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.

After disputing with them they decided to take the matter to Jerusalem with some brethren.It said in Jerusalem there rose a group of Pharisees disputing the same issue

KJV Acts 15 : 5

But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

It's not clear whether the second group was still the same one that had disputed at Antioch

Was this a different group altogether?

  • 2
    They certainly propagated the same doctrine, they were extant at the same period of time and there is no reason to believe that they were not affiliated with one another and influenced one another . But the record names no names so I do not see we can define matters any further.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 4, 2022 at 19:03
  • @NigelJ - I agree - we cannot go beyond what Scripture says.
    – Dottard
    Jan 4, 2022 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


Nigel J says it well, they had the same doctrine but there is no way to know for sure if they are the same people. It's best to go with "I don't know if they were the same people or not" and focus on the main point of the story.

I don't mean to be overly detailed but it helps me to understand something if I look at the context.

Looking at the whole passage: Acts 15

1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

Time line:
Verse 1

  • The scene is Antioch
  • "Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch". We don't know who but we know they taught circumcision.
    Verse 2
  • Paul and Barnabas disagreed with the people who came from Judea.
  • Paul and Barnabas are sent to Jerusalem do discuss the question of circumcision.
    Verse 3
  • Paul and Barnabas travel through Phoenicia and Samaria and report on Gentile conversion
    Verse 4 the scene shifts to Jerusalem
  • In Jerusalem they are welcomed and they give a status report
    Verse 5
  • "some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees" argue for circumcision.

We don't have enough information in this passage to say with any certainty if the "certain people" in verse 1 are the same people as the believers in verse 5. We do know that they held the same belief in circumcision and that drives the main topic of the passage.

The point of 15:1-6 is to introduce the question of circumcision and the larger critical question of works vs. faith and to set the stage for Peter's speech starting in verse 7.

The pivotal verse in the chapter is:
11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

  • @ David D,was looking at it this way, why take a different group to Jerusalem than take the disputers so as to hear for themselves the position of the church at Jerusalem. Jan 5, 2022 at 18:27

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