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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Acts 15:22-35 – The Decision Conveyed

The gathering in Jerusalem adopted the decision of James and wanted to convey it to the church in Antioch. They could have given the letter to Barnabas and Paul, but instead they decided to send two of their own leaders with it, Judas and Silas.

The letter was brotherly, clear and short. Its contents criticised those who had attempted to impose the ceremonial law, commended Barnabas and Saul for their service, and explained the role of the two representatives from Jerusalem. We are not surprised that the letter created joy in the church in Antioch because a possible division in the worldwide church had been prevented. No doubt, prayer had been answered and the devil’s wiles had been ineffective on this occasion.

James had concluded that several requirements should be stipulated, which the letter stated was also the mind of God. The Gentiles were to refuse certain foods from their diets because of their connections and practice purity. The issue regarding the eating of certain foods would resurface later in the ministry of Paul and he deals with it in some of his letters. It is straightforward to deduce that the gathering had been concerned about church unity and witness, and their requirements were connected to those important and essential aspects of church life. We should ask ourselves if our contributions to decisions are designed for furthering church unity and witness.

The contribution of Judas and Silas is described as encouraging and strengthening. They had a lot to say in the process, which is a reminder that our addresses and sermons should say a lot about encouragement. We might think it strange that a large church like Antioch would need to be strengthened. But all Christians do, no matter their past spiritual growth.

So life returned to normal in the church in Antioch. A crisis had been avoided, and the congregation was receiving ongoing spiritual instruction from their highly commended leaders Paul and Barnabas, as well as from many others. How long would this pleasant state last?

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