Day 20 - Acts 15:30-16:2 - 40 Days in the Book of Acts

30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

To review from yesterday, Paul and Barnabas, along with Judas and Silas, are carrying a letter from Jerusalem to the believers in Antioch.  It basically says that they do not believe that Gentiles believers have to observe the Law of Moses in order to be saved.  It encourages them to personal holiness and what they can do to have fellowship with those who were raised in the Jewish faith.  

When the letter was read these believers rejoiced and were glad at what they heard.  Judas and Silas encouraged and strengthen the letter with their teaching and ministry.  After a period of time, the church released these two so they could return home.  As we will see shortly, Judas went, but Silas stayed.  Paul and Barnabas remained and continued to do what they had always done for Christ. 

So with this major turn of events, the church now begins to look different.  Gentile believers, worshipping Christ, but not from a Jewish point of view.  I am sure that this brought some changes to the church in that day.  I would imagine that some people embraced it and others, not so much.  The false teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised and obey the Laws of Moses (while believing in Jesus) in order to be saved never really did die.  This false teaching reared it's ugly head again and again throughout the New Testament.  

36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Paul thought it would be a good idea to resist the churches they started during their first missionary trip.  But Barnabas wanted to take his cousin John Mark. (Yes, this is the guy who wrote the Gospel of Mark)  But Paul didn't like that idea.  If you remember Mark had abandoned them during the last missionary trip.  I don't see a clash of personalities here as much as a difference of opinion.  Paul didn't want to take someone with him that he couldn't count on - Barnabas wanted to give Mark a second chance.  They agreed to disagree - sharply.  

Barnabas takes Mark to Cyprus - Paul takes Silas and visits the other churches they started.  In the end all of this was a good idea.  Paul later notes in the book of Timothy that Mark is useful for ministry.  Also, the fact that Silas traveled with Paul solidifies that their teaching is backed by both the churches of Antioch and Jerusalem.  Especially useful against those nasty Judaizers who were leading Gentiles away from Jesus.  

Conflict doesn't have to be a bad thing.  When the mission and goal are clear, we don't mind making changes for the greater good of what God wants us to do.  

16 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.

Here we see an introduction of a young man (teens, early 20's maybe) who really impresses Paul.  Timothy.  His mother is Jewish, but a believer.  His father is Greek and most likely and non believer.  But the influence of his mother was greater than that of his father.  The church in both Lystra and Iconium think highly of him.  In other words, he had an effective ministry in these churches.  

I always like to point out the power of youth being influenced by the Holy Spirit.  They idea that young people cannot do anything significant for Christ is the biggest lie the church embraces today.  We would rather talk about the (phases) that they are going through rather than the victories they can embrace through Jesus Christ.  

English Standard Version (ESV)

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