Day 15, Acts 15.
This chapter begins with Jewish believers who are trying to make the Gentile believers in Antioch be baptized and follow the Law to be saved. To address this, the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas and some other believers to go to the apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem in order to determine which was correct. This is most likely the same trip that Paul wrote of in Galatians 2:1-10.
Along the way to Jerusalem, they shared what God had been doing among the Gentiles. The believers were encouraged to hear how God had been saving the Gentiles.
In response to the question of whether the Gentile believers needed to be circumcised and follow the Law that had been given to the Jews….
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
James stood up and said,
…19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
23 With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul—26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
This was quite an encouragement to the Gentile believers. Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.
This chapter ends with a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. This shows that even men who love God and are obedient to God can disagree and that sometimes God splits up a ministry team. These men did indeed split up and go their separate ways – both of them continuing in ministry, just in different places.
Do you have disagreements with other Christians? Make sure you are kind and loving and not trying to get vengeance. But be patient, kind, loving, forgiving and merciful. Then follow with what you know God wants you to do. Sometimes good people disagree, and its ok.