“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barnabas) and Silas. This is the letter they took with them:“This letter is from the apostles and elders, your brothers in Jerusalem. It is written to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. Greetings!“We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question.“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”The messengers went at once to Antioch, where they called a general meeting of the believers and delivered the letter. And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.
In the book of Acts, the early church began spreading throughout the Roman world and many people of different backgrounds and cultures began following Jesus. This presented a problem for the Jewish followers of Christ as their Jewish background required circumcision to become a part of God’s family. However, the apostle Paul and Barnabas completely disagreed with this requirement and argued against it. The church in Antioch, one of the main churches at the time, decided to send a delegate to the leaders in Jerusalem to decide the requirements for these new gentile believers.
A council of the apostles and elders gathered in Jerusalem to address this difficult issue and make an important decision. At the heart of the issue is this: Is the faith of God’s people now open to outsiders, to non-Jews (gentiles)? And if so, are they required to keep the same Old Covenant laws as their Jewish brothers?
Verse 28 and 29 reveal that the leaders spent some serious time searching the scriptures, listening to the Holy Spirit and seeking Jesus’ leading as they came to a decision.
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to obey the Spirit’s direction, the church leaders were able to navigate this tough issue and communicate God’s will to all who decided to follow Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles.
And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message. (v.31)
Whenever we are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions or tangled-up conflicts, we too can rely on the God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to show us the way.
Take a look at this Bible Project video for the 2nd half of the Book of Acts as we continue our study in Acts.
Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that you provide your Holy Spirit to guide us to all truth. Whenever we experience conflict or questions, Your Spirit reveals your truth through your Holy Word when we faithfully seek your truth. Help us to quickly turn to you whenever conflicts arise so that we can live together in unity and in peace…
Today’s post was written by Michele Barnes.
Michele is married to the love of her life, Jeff. She has 3 grown children and 1 very sweet new grandson! Most days you can find Michele laughing with good friends, working with numbers, writing, or working with women. In the evenings, she enjoys spending time in a few creative outlets like creative lettering, drawing, and pottery. She loves snuggling with her dog, Tebow, and reading. But her most recent passion is snuggling with her sweet, new grandson and gazing at his precious face and bright smile! You can find her most weekends worshiping at our Real Life Clermont campus.