Acts 15:1 - 40
- People were teaching that in addition to believing, Gentiles needed to be circumcised, according to the Jewish law, in order to be saved.
- Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed and went to Jerusalem with others so the apostles and elders could make a decision.
- The news that Gentiles had been converted made believers glad.
- The apostles and elders had a lot of discussion about the need for Gentiles to be circumcised.
- Peter said that God sent him to the Gentiles with the gospel and they believed. God did not discriminate between Jew and Gentile. Why require Gentiles to obey laws the Jews haven’t been able to keep. It is through the grace of Jesus that everybody is saved.
- Barnabas and Paul shared the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.
- James recommended that they not make it difficult for Gentiles who are turning to God. The Gentiles should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. Three related to food and one related to sex. Nothing related to being circumcised.
- Judas, Silas and others went with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to share the decision with Gentile believers there, who were glad.
- Paul and Barnabas wanted to visit believers in towns where they traveled and preached before. They had a sharp disagreement about whether to take Mark. They went their separate ways, both taking someone with them as they both shared the gospel.
The chapter begins and ends with sharp disagreements. The first is a disagreement on the corporate level. They discussed it at length and then the leadership made a decision. The second is a personal disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. They parted company, but both went away serving God and preaching the gospel. I sometimes picture the early church as a place where everybody got along and agreed with each other. It’s good to see that they had to work through conflict, both corporately and personally.
How do we react when we disagree? My natural reaction is to try to avoid conflict. I want to be able to recognize that conflict will happen and that it’s an opportunity for everyone involved to grow in their relationship with God.
Father, help me to see conflict and disagreement as something normal. Help me to value the relationships more than being right. Draw us to you as we work through our conflicts.
Posted on Tue, February 24, 2015
by Dave Bruechert