I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading. I am on a business trip over the weekend and into next week, so my posts may be somewhat abbreviated. Today’s certainly will be.
Today, I am reading and commenting on Acts 14-16.
When Paul and Barnabas returned from their missionary trip to Antioch in Syria, some Jewish believers arrived and taught that the Gentile believers needed to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. Paul and Barnabas disagreed strenuously. I think it is noteworthy that Barnabas joined Paul in this argument. Everything we know about Paul indicates that he was argumentative and stubborn, but what we know about Barnabas is the opposite. The argument was so heated, and both sides were so sure that the other was wrong that the Church in Antioch sent a delegation to Jerusalem for a consultation with the Church there. Another point to take note of was that the delegation stopped in several cities on the way and shared the stories of Gentiles coming to believe. In each of these cities this news was greeted with joy. The early Jewish believers were ecstatic at the idea of Gentiles coming to the Lord, even those believers who thought that the Gentiles needed to follow the Law of Moses.
When the delegation got the Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas reported what had happened on their missions trip. When they finished, some of the Jewish believers, who were also Pharisees, stood up and said that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. The leaders of the Jerusalem Church called a meeting to work through this issue. The discussions went on for some time, then Peter stood up and argued that the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his household without them first being circumcised. He further argued that salvation came through the undeserved grace of Christ, not through following the Law. Therefore the Gentiles should not be required to follow the Law of Moses. After Peter spoke, Paul and Barnabas told how the Holy Spirit had come upon the Gentile believers without them first being circumcised. Finally, James, the brother of Jesus, stood up and summarized the consensus of the group: believers should not eat food offered to idols, practice any form of sexual immorality (as described in the Law of Moses), or consume blood (the prohibition against eating strangled animals had to do with the blood remaining in the animal).