Author: gracepoint

June 27, 2022

Prayer

Our church is going through a new devotional format, to devote Mondays and Fridays to prayer. We will continue our study through the Book of Acts on Tuesdays through Thursdays.

“Pray for ‘all men.’ We usually pray for things more than we do for men. Our prayers should be thrown “If we would therefore behave like good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must be always on our guard, and “It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” – Hudson Taylor


Prayer of Gratitude

Prayer of Supplication


June 24, 2022

Prayer

Our church is going through a new devotional format, to devote Mondays and Fridays to prayer. We will continue our study through the Book of Acts on Tuesdays through Thursdays.

“Pray for ‘all men.’ We usually pray for things more than we do for men. Our prayers should be thrown “If we would therefore behave like good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must be always on our guard, and never pretend to lay down our spiritual weapons of prayer and watching, till our warfare is ended by death; for if we do, our spiritual foe will quickly prevail against us.” – George Whitefield


Prayer of Gratitude

Prayer of Supplication


June 23, 2022

Acts 16:16-24

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 16 COMMENTARY

Bible Text

Acts 16:16-24 (ESV)

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Go Deeper

Acts 16:16-24

  • Think about the slave girl who “brought her owners much gain” through her demon-possession. What does Paul’s deliverance of the girl do for her? For her owners? For Paul and Silas?
  • Notice the charges against Paul that the owners of the slave girl bring to the magistrates (vv. 20-21). Why might they have phrased their grievance against Paul in this way?
  • Who might be similarly threatened by the gospel’s impact on people today?
  • How does this passage identify, inspire or commission me?

Prayer

June 22, 2022

Acts 16:1-16

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 16 COMMENTARY

Background: This was Paul’s second missionary journey which lasted for about three years. This time, Paul and Silas set out by land, rather than by sea, traveling the Roman road. Macedonia was a Roman province and Philippi was its key colony, which means its constitution was patterned after that of Rome. This was Paul’s first attempt to evangelize to the Romans.

v.6: “The regions of Phrygia and Galatia included much of modern-day Turkey, yet God, for reasons known only to him, did not allow the missionaries to go into the province of Asia at that time. ‘Asia’ referred not to the continent, but rather to the Roman province that was the western part of Asia Minor. Ephesus probably would have been the leading city in this region.” [1]

“God’s strange providence in the way he prohibited Paul from going to places where he wanted to go shows us that, while it is right for humans to plan and have visions, those plans must be submitted to the will of God and be open to his veto. Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.’ Paul submitted to God’s will and was also receptive to his voice. Though he had his plans, he always presented them to God, and God was able to get through to him with his will. We should be careful about pushing through projects we have reservations about. After all, we will be unable to give our heart and soul to such projects. It is better then to take the time to grapple with God to find out what his will is.” [2]  

“They were forbidden at this time to preach the Gospel in Asia… [perhaps] because the people were not yet prepared to receive it, as they were afterwards (Ch. 19:10), when all those who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord.” [3]  

v.13: “Though ‘place of prayer’ was used in those days for synagogues, this must have been simply a place where people met to worship God. It was necessary to have ten men to organize a synagogue, but only women were gathered here. Being by a river facilitated any ceremonial washing rituals.” [4]

“Paul’s first evangelistic contact in Macedonia was with a small group of women. Paul never allowed gender or cultural differences to keep him from preaching the gospel. In the early church, God often worked in and through women.” [5] 

v.14: Thyatira, the city where Lydia was from, was a great way from Philippi. Perhaps marriage or business brought her to that city, but one should acknowledge God’s providence at work here: to bring Lydia from Thyatira to Philippi so that she can meet Paul and hear the Gospel. Note that through Lydia, her entire household was baptized.

“Her immediate reaction was to offer the hospitality of her house to Paul and his friends. When Paul is describing the Christian character he says that the Christian should be ‘given to hospitality (Romans 12:13). When Peter is urging Christian duty upon his converts he tells them, ‘Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.’ A Christian home is one with an ever-open door.”  [6]

v.18: “The girl is said to have ‘a spirit by which she predicted the future.’ Though what she proclaimed affirmed Paul’s ministry, he was ‘troubled’ by it. (diaponeomai, v.18, which means “to be strongly irked or provoked at something or someone.”). Why Paul delayed responding for a few days remains a mystery. But when he did attend to it, the power of God overcame the demoniac hold over the girl’s life. The employers of the girl must have known that she was in a miserable state and that what Paul had done for her was, in effect, a deliverance from bondage. But they had lost a means of income, so they opposed Paul.  Yet, they couched their opposition in noble terms, stating that the stability of the city was at stake because Paul and his team were ‘advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.’ Paul was motivated by such a deep love for people that he could not endure the pain seeing this girl under the grip of deception.” [7]

vv.19-21: “The charge laid was that Paul and Silas were advocating a religio illicita and thus disturbing the Pax Romana. But the charge, being couched in terms that appealed to the latent anti-Semitism of the people (‘these men are Jews’) and their racial pride (‘us Romans’), ignited the flames of bigotry and prevented any dispassionate discussion of the issues.

Many have asked why only Paul and Silas were singled out for persecution, with Timothy and Luke left free. Of course, Paul and Silas were the leaders of the missionary party and therefore most open to attack. But we must also remember that Paul and Silas were Jews and probably looked very much like Jews (cf. comments on 14:3 on the tradition of Paul’s appearance). Timothy and Luke, however, being respectively half-Jewish and fully Gentile (cf. Col 4:14, where Luke is grouped by Paul with his Gentile friends), probably looked Greek in both their features and their dress and therefore were left alone. Anti-Semitism lay very near the surface throughout the Roman Empire.” [8]

vv.27-28: “When the awakened jailer saw the doors open, he surmised the worst. In Roman law a guard who allowed his prisoner to escape was liable to the same penalty the prisoner would have suffered (Code of Justinian 9.4.4). Thus the jailer drew his sword to kill himself, believing the prisoners had all escaped. But Paul saw him in the doorway and shouted out from within the prison, ‘Don’t harm yourself.  We are all here!’”[9]

v.34: “Luke’s report of joy over salvation in the home of the jailer is evidence of one of the most important themes in his writings. Nearly 24 percent of words of joy in the New Testament appear in Gospel of Luke (53) and Acts (24). It is not surprising then, that the fellowship of the first Christian community was characterized by ‘unaffected joy.’ (Acts 2:46).” [10] 

v.37: “Was Paul being petty? Why did Paul make the magistrates escort him personally out of prison?  His motive may have been to gain respect and some measure of protection from the government officials for the Christians who would remain in the city.  Having treated him shamefully the day before, the city official might be more prone to mistreat the church in the future if they succeeded in hustling Paul out of town.  Paul didn’t want this kind of menacing precedent to go unchallenged.  In addition, Paul may have been setting the stage to return someday.” [11]

Bible Text

Acts 16:1-15 (ESV)

1 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. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Go Deeper

Acts 16:1-15

  • What is the wisdom behind Paul’s decision in v. 3? 

Acts 16:6-10

  • Think about the topic of God’s leading as related in this passage. What did being led by God look like for Paul and his companions? How does this match our notion of what it looks like to be led by God?

Acts 16:11-15

  • In what ways was Lydia ready to receive salvation?
  • What can I learn about the fruit of salvation from Lydia’s response in v. 15?

[1] Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 529.

[2] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 436.

[3] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Peabody,MA: Hendrickson Publisher, 1997) 2134.

[4] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 443.

[5] Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 530-531.

[6] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed., 123.

[7] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 444, 449, 454.

[8] Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, notes for vv.19-21.

[9] Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, notes for vv.25-28.

[10] Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series, 450.

[11] Quest Study Bible, study notes, 1531.                 


Prayer

June 21, 2022

Acts 15:22-35

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

Acts 15:36-41 (ESV)

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.

Go Deeper

Acts 15:36-41

  • Consider the source of this “sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas. Recall the mention of John Mark in a previous chapter: “Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13). Why would these two men separate based on a disagreement over such a nonessential matter? 
  • Despite this split, it can be noted that “out of this disagreement came a doubling of their labor, for Barnabas went to strengthen the churches in Cyprus and Paul went to the churches in Syria, Cilicia, and then Galatia.” In addition, both of their assistants (Mark and Silas) went on to have significant ministries themselves.  Lastly, we know from the below passages from Paul’s epistles (both written after the events of Acts 15) that Mark and Paul were reconciled (although Scripture gives no clues regarding Barnabas) and Mark became a needed kingdom worker.

Colossians 4:10 (ESV)

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him),

2 Timothy 4:11 (ESV)

Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.

         What can I learn from this unfortunate episode and its aftermath?


Prayer

June 20, 2022

Prayer

Our church is going through a new devotional format, to devote Mondays and Fridays to prayer. We will continue our study through the Book of Acts on Tuesdays through Thursdays.

“Pray for ‘all men.’ We usually pray for things more than we do for men. Our prayers should be thrown across their pathways as they rush in their downward course to a lost eternity.” – E. M. Bounds


Prayer of Gratitude

Prayer of Supplication


June 17, 2022

Prayer

Our church is going through a new devotional format, to devote Mondays and Fridays to prayer. We will continue our study through the Book of Acts on Tuesdays through Thursdays.

“Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.” – D. L. Moody


Prayer of Gratitude

Prayer of Supplication


June 16, 2022

Acts 15:22-35

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

Acts 15:22-35 (ESV)

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

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.

Go Deeper

Acts 15:22-35

The letter was accompanied by representatives of the Jerusalem church who could testify to the reasoning that the consensus expressed.  James agreed with Peter that they should not trouble the Gentiles with the ritual laws. But he knew that Gentile Christians would have contact with Jewish Christians who still kept the ceremonial provisions, including laws about sacrifices, festivals, unclean foods, and circumcision. He offered a proposal by which Gentile Christians could have fellowship with Jewish Christians and avoid giving unnecessary offense. [1]

  • Consider the wisdom and sensitivity demonstrated by the apostles and elders in this passage. What can I learn from this?
  • What was the response of the Antioch church to the decision made by the apostles? What does this reveal about the authority of the apostles in the early church? 

[1] The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2116.


Prayer

June 15, 2022

Acts 15:12-21

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

Acts 15:12-21 (ESV)

12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.

15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

16 “‘After this I will return,

   and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;

   I will rebuild its ruins,

     and I will restore it,

17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,

    and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,

     says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known  

   from of old.’

19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

Go Deeper

Acts 15:14-18

•       God surprised many of the first Jewish believers by revealing His long planned desire to include the Gentiles as part of His people. How does this encourage and challenge me with regards to people in my life who don’t yet know God?

Acts 15:19-21

•       How do James’s sentiments differ from those expressed by the Pharisee believers earlier in the chapter (v.1, v.5)?  Why does James say that they should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God?  Are there ways that I or other Christians might make it difficult for others to turn to God through our actions, words, and lifestyle?

Acts 15:20

  • Although these were not required for salvation, what compromises were the Gentile believers encouraged to make in order to promote unity with the Jewish believers?  Are there some “rights” that I can voluntarily give up in order to promote unity with my brothers and sisters as well?

Prayer

June 14, 2022

Acts 15:1-11

Journal

Please use one of the prompts below to get your journaling started.

  • Explore your fears and what’s behind them.
  • Write about a relational conflict you are experiencing.
  • List out all that you are grateful for.
  • Recall a significant reaction, conversation or event.

Commentary

Commentary for Chapters 1-11

CHAPTER 12 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 13 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 14 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

CHAPTER 15 COMMENTARY

v.1: Who were these “some men” who came down from Judea to Antioch?

“Judaizers, some Jewish Christians, took the position that Gentiles must become Jewish first to be eligible for salvation. They believed this because they were devout, practicing Jews who found it difficult to set aside a tradition of gaining merit with God by keeping the law.  They thought grace was too easy for the Gentiles.  They were afraid of seeming too non-Jewish in the practice of their new faith – which could lead to death.  The demands on the Gentiles were a way of maintaining control and authority in the movement.” [1]

v.4: “The debate over circumcision could have split the church, but Paul, Barnabas, and the Jews in Antioch made the right decision – they sought counsel from the church leaders and from God’s Word.  Our differences should be settled the same way, by seeking wise counsel and abiding by the decisions.” [2] 

vv.10-11: “Peter went right to the heart of the question. In this whole dispute the deepest of principles was involved. Can a man earn the favor of God? Or must he admit his own helplessness and be ready in humble faith to accept what the grace of God gives? In effect, the Jewish party said, ‘Religion means earning God’s favor by keeping the Law.’ Peter said, ‘Religion consists in casting ourselves on the grace of God.’ Here is implicit the difference between a religion of works and a religion of grace. Peace will never come to a man until he realizes that he can never put God in his debt; and that all he can do is take what God in his grace gives. The paradox of Christianity is that the way to victory is through surrender; and the way to power is through admitting one’s own helplessness.” [3]

vv.16-18: “In arguing for the full inclusion of Gentiles into the church Peter appealed to direct guidance and intervention from God, and Barnabas and Paul appealed to God’s confirmation of their work through signs and wonders.  James appeals to Scripture, showing that ‘the words of the prophets are in agreement’ with what has happened. James quotes Amos 9:11-12 and sees its fulfillment in the Gentile mission […]

v.20: “Why did they include sexual immorality with dietary restrictions?  The Greek and Roman world was filled with pagan religions.  To help the Gentiles break with their past and to ease sensitive Jewish consciences, Gentiles were told to cut themselves off from anything related to pagan worship.  They were not to eat food offered to idols. Nor were they to participate in pagan religious festivals – often marked by sensual revelry and sexual immorality.  These prohibitions were not intended to cover the whole picture of morality.” [4] 

“Why wasn’t faith alone enough? Why did the Gentiles have to follow four additional requirements? The council had already settled the issue of salvation: it was by grace through faith alone (15:6-11).  The four additional requirements had nothing to do with how the Gentiles would be saved; it had everything to do with how they could live and worship with Jewish believers who were particularly offended by these four types of behavior.  These instructions were intended to maintain peace and unity in the church.” [5]

v.22: The Church was wise in sending a person as well as a letter. One of the earliest Christian writers declared that he had learned more from the living and abiding voice than from any amount of reading. A letter could have sounded coldly official; but the words of Judas and Silas added a friendly warmth that the bare reception of a letter could never have achieved. Any amount of trouble might be avoided many a time if only a personal visit is paid instead of someone being content with sending a letter.” [6]

“A representative from the Jewish believers and one from the Gentile believers were appointed as delegates to go with Paul and Barnabas to deliver the council’s decision … Judas was a Jew; Silas was a Greek.  Their presence together would give credence to the council’s ruling.” [7]

vv.24-27: “In this letter, the Jerusalem church disassociated itself from those men who had troubled the Gentile converts regarding circumcision.  They had received no such instructions from the apostles and had been acting without their approval.  They were not to be regarded as spokesmen for the church.  Rather, the men bringing the letter (Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas) had been chosen as representatives of the church, with authority to speak on behalf of the elders and apostles.[8] 

vv.28-29: “The letter implies a clear leading of God in the decision rendered (it seemed good to the Holy Spirit). Two of the council’s requirements involved issues of morality (avoiding idolatry and sexual immorality), and two involved issues of food.  The dietary restrictions were because the early church often shared common meals (similar to modern day church potluck dinners).  Sometimes called “love feasts” and held in conjunction with the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Cor 11:17-34), these meals would bring Jews and Gentiles together.  In such settings, a Gentile might horrify the Jewish Christians by eating meat that was not kosher.  In this compromise agreement, legalistic Jews no longer insisted that the Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved, and the Gentiles accepted a change in their eating habits.  These decisions should not be regarded as divine ordinances but rather as stipulations for fellowship between the two parties. Their concerns were not so much theological as practical.” [9]  

v.39: “Why would spiritual leaders argue with each other?  “Paul and Barnabas quarreled partly because they held such passionate convictions about God’s will.  For Paul, nothing could eclipse the mission of preaching the gospel and building churches.  If John Mark jeopardized that mission, he should minister elsewhere. For Barnabas, nicknamed the son of encouragement, the restoration of one sincere Christian worker justified the risk.  In a sense, both Paul and Barnabas were right.  Yet in another sense, both were wrong: although they were spiritually mature, Paul and Barnabas allowed anger to influence them.” [10]

v.40: “The narrative of Paul’s second missionary journey, which occupied him for about three years, is given in the section of Acts which extends from Ac.15:36 to Ac.18:23. It began from Antioch. Paul first made a tour of the churches of Syria and Cilicia. Then he re-visited the churches in the regions of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch. There followed a period when he could not see his way clear before him. That time of uncertainty ended with the vision at Troas. From Troas, Paul crossed to Neapolis and thence to Philippi. From Philippi he moved on to Thessalonica and Beroea. From there he went to Athens and then on to Corinth where he spent about eighteen months. From Corinth he traveled to Jerusalem by way of Ephesus and finally back to Antioch, his starting point. The great step forward is that with this journey Paul’s activity passed beyond Asia Minor and entered Europe.” [11] 

Bible Text

Acts 15:1-11 (ESV)

1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Go Deeper

Acts 15:1-21

The decision described in this passage—that Gentile believers would not be required to observe Old Testament rituals—had a tremendous impact on the spread of Christianity while maintaining the apostolic unity of the Christian movement. Consider the fact that a decision was arrived at “after there had been much debate” (15:7). One commentator notes: This important theological issue in the early history of the church was not decided by a sudden decree spoken by a prophet but by careful reasoning and thoughtful argumentation based on Scripture. [12]

•       What can I learn from this passage about the process of arriving at truth or of making important decisions? How does this compare to my response to dissensions or disagreements?

Acts 15:7-11

•       Identify and reflect on the words of Peter that capture the essence of the gospel.


[1] Life Application Study Bible,1985.

[2] Life Application Study Bible,1987.

[3] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed.,114-115.

[4] The Quest Study Bible, study notes, 1528.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed., 117-118.

[7] Bruce B. Barton, et al., Life Application New Testament Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2001), 527.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] The Quest Study Bible, study notes, 1528.

[11] Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed.,120.

[12] The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008) 2115.


Prayer

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