Acts 14 v 21 - 15 v 5

Luke continues to give us a breath taking ride through the movements of the apostles and this passage acts rather like a travelogue of Barnabas and Paul's commitments. There are three things concerning Paul that it is good to note here:

1. His complete honesty to the people who had chosen to become Christians. He is clear that they face suffering and persecution as they seek to enter the Kingdom of God. The same principle which Jesus had: 'He came not to make life easy, but to make people great' extended to Paul as well.

2. As he and Barnabas made their way back to Antioch, they made individuals elders in all the little groups of Christians, asserting that Christianity must be lived in a fellowship.

3. He and Barnabas asserted equally that it was God had done with them and through them which counted, not their strength alone which did anything. We begin to have the right idea of Christian service when we work not for our own honour but from the conviction that we are tools in the hand of Almighty God.

As in anything which grows and develops, there arose a problem in the Church. The Jewish converts to Christianity still clung onto what had made them special as Jews: in particular, the mark of circumcision. The key question for the apostles-who were all Jews-was if Gentiles who accepted Christ must first become Jews before they became Christians, essentially making Christianity a sub-sect of Judaism? We begin the fifteenth chapter of Acts tells of the Council of Jerusalem whose charter became the call to freedom, equality and unity for the Gentiles.

Paul and Barnabas were obviously on the side of the Gentiles and they travelled to Jerusalem to give their account of what they had witnessed on their journey.

When John wrote his Gospel in probably the '80's or '90's AD, his acclamation 'For God so loved the WORLD that He sent His only Son' was hard-won!

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