God’s Faithful Word of Spiritual Renewal
Acts 15:22-41: A decision is reached by the church leaders in Jerusalem regarding the extent to which Gentile converts were to observe Jewish laws. Along with Paul and Barnabas, Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas are sent to Antioch to meet with the believers there. The chapter concludes with Paul and Barnabas going their separate ways and Paul choosing Silas to travel with him.
When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement.
22Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole church, decided to choose some men from the group and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose two men who were highly respected by the believers, Judas, called Barsabbas, and Silas,23and they sent the following letter by them:
“We, the apostles and the elders, your brothers, send greetings to all our brothers of Gentile birth who live in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.24We have heard that some who went from our group have troubled and upset you by what they said; they had not, however, received any instruction from us.25And so we have met together and have all agreed to choose some messengers and send them to you. They will go with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul,26who have risked their lives in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ.27We send you, then, Judas and Silas, who will tell you in person the same things we are writing.28The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to put any other burden on you besides these necessary rules:29eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes.”
30The messengers were sent off and went to Antioch, where they gathered the whole group of believers and gave them the letter.31When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement.32Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, spoke a long time with them, giving them courage and strength.33After spending some time there, they were sent off in peace by the believers and went back to those who had sent them.
35Paul and Barnabas spent some time in Antioch, and together with many others they taught and preached the word of the Lord.
36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along.”37Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them,38 but Paul did not think it was right to take him, because he had not stayed with them to the end of their mission, but had turned back and left them in Pamphylia.39There was a sharp argument, and they separated: Barnabas took Mark and sailed off for Cyprus,40while Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the care of the Lord's grace.41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
What decision was reached in Jerusalem? How was the decision conveyed to the Gentile believers? How did the Gentile believers react? What caused Paul and Barnabas to separate? Do you agree with Paul’s decision regarding John Mark? (The reference to John Mark’s earlier departure is recorded in Acts 13:13.)
Lord God, even within a community of believers, disagreements can occur. Teach me patience and understanding so that differences can be resolved peacefully in accord with your will. Amen.
Mediators of disputes
Acts 16:1-15: Paul embarks on his second missionary journey.