Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Fifty-six: The Circumcision Question Settled   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
Story

Chapter Fifty-six:

The Circumcision Question Settled


                       THE BOOK OF ACTS 
                             and
                       RELATED EPISTLES

                 ACTS chapter Fourteen and Fifteen


FINISHING THE FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY

     Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium, a town in Asia Minor or
Turkey as it is called today, and they both went into the
synagogue of the Jews and spoke so powerfully that a great
multitude of the Jews and also of the gentile Greeks became
believers in Jesus as the Messiah. But once more the unbelieving
Jews stirred up a good percentage of the unbelieving Gentiles
against the brethren. Yet Barnabas and Paul stayed there quite a
time speaking boldly in the Lord, and Christ gave proof of His
grace by granted wonderful signs and miracles to be performed by
them.
     In the process of time the people of the city were divided,
part sided with the unbelieving Jews and part sided with the
apostles. The unbelieving Jews and Gentiles together with many of
their leaders decided they would take stronger action against the
apostles and stone them one day when it was the right time. But
the apostles became aware of their evil plan and fled from that
city and went to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycoania, and they
preached the Gospel in that whole area. This is all about 15 to
20 miles west of Tarsus, where Paul was living before Barnabas
came from Antioch in Syria to bring him over to Antioch as we
have already seen in an earlier chapter (Acts 14:1-7).

PAUL HEALS A CRIPPLE  

     In Lystra there was a man who was crippled in the feet from
birth, and who had never in his life walked. The man was looking
at Paul as he preached and Paul detected that he had faith to be
healed, and so, with a loud voice said to him, "Stand up on your
feet!"  The man stood and began walking and then leaping around,
as if he had done so all his life. It was truly a remarkable
miracle, for the man not only was healed in the feet but was
given the ability of balance and walking and leaping without ever
have to learn to do so. The people of the city in their
particular language all began to shout at the top of their
voices, "Oh, the gods, the gods, have come down to us in the
likeness of men!" They named Barnabas with the name "Jupiter" and
Paul they named "Mercurius" - two of their most revered gods. It
will be of interest here to learn a little about these two
famous gods of the Gentiles. I will quote from the Bible
Commentary by Albert Barnes:

     "Jupiter was represented as the most powerful god of the
     ancients. He was represented as the son of Saturn and
     Ops.....the worship of Jupiter was almost universal.....His
     common appellation was, the father of gods and man. He was
     usually represented as sitting on a golden or an ivory
     throne, holding in one hand a thunderbolt, and in the other
     a sceptre of cypress. His power was supposed to extend over
     other gods; and everything was subservient to his will,
     except the fates. There is abundant proof that he was
     worshipped in the region of Lycoania, and throughout Asia
     Minor.....
     Mercury, called by the Greeks 'Hermes' was a celebrated god
     of antiquity....He was the messenger of the gods, and of
     Jupiter in particular; he was the patron of travellers and
     shepherds; he conducted the souls of the dead into the
     infernal regions; and he PRESIDED OVER ORATORS, AND
     DECLAIMERS, and merchants....He was regarded as the god of
     ELOQUENCE; and as light rapid and quick in his movements.
     The conjecture of Chrysostom is, that Barnabas was a large
     athletic man, and was hence taken for Jupiter; and Paul was
     small in his person, and was hence supposed to be Mercury.
     BECAUSE HE WAS CHIEF SPEAKER. The office of Mercury was to
     deliver the message of the gods; and as Paul only had been
     discoursing, he was supposed to be Mercury" (emphasis
     Barnes).

     The head priest of Jupiter for the city ordered oxen and all
the trappings for sacrifice be brought to the city gate, and he
was ready to offer sacrifice with the people to Paul and
Barnabas. When the apostles heard this, they were abhorrent and
tore their outer garments, which was a sign and custom back then
of humiliation. They ran among the people crying out, "Sirs,
people, why are you doing these things? We are just men like
yourselves, with human passions as you have. We are teaching that
you turn from vain useless customs and practices and worship the
true living God, the one who made heaven and earth, and the sea,
and all that are in them. Who in times gone by allowed and
permitted all nations to walk after their own ways and mind. But
He was not without witness of His existence, for He did good to
people, giving rain from heaven, and fruitful harvests, filling
people's hearts with food and gladness."
     Even with those words it was still very difficult to
restrain the people from offering sacrifice to them, but they did
manage to prevent them from doing so.

     It was but a short time later when certain Jews from Antioch
and Iconium came and with clever words and emotional tactics,
they got the people so worked up against and in opposition to
Paul and Barnabas, and especially Paul, for it would seem he did
most of the preaching, that they started to stone Paul, and
actually thought they had killed him. They pulled what seemed,
his lifeless body, outside the city to rot in the sun. The
other disciples were gathered around his body, also presuming he
was dead, when he rose up on his legs and headed straight back
into the city.
     It was another miracle for sure, and it would seem the
people of the city and those who had just stone Paul, knew it was
a miracle also, for they did not come anywhere near him to try
harming him again. They probably thought if they did some
lightening bolt would come down from heaven and strike them dead.
Paul spent the rest of the day and night back in the city and
then with Barnabas departed the next day to go to Derbe.
     There they preached the Gospel and taught many about the
word of God and Jesus Christ, then with great faith in the power
and protection of God they returned again to Lystra, to Iconium,
and finally back to Antioch from where they started their
missionary journey. They strengthened the lives of the new
disciples they had made in those towns, encouraging them to
endure in the faith, and teaching them that it is sometimes
through much trials, troubles, and tribulations, that we must
enter the Kingdom of God. 
     Life as a Christian is not always a bed of roses, sometimes
along the way we have thorns and thistles we must contend with,
some have more and some have less. No one knows what hardships we
may encounter in our life as we walk God's way, unless God
decides to tell you beforehand in a dream or send you an angel to
tell you. For the vast majority of us, that does not happen. But
we must except that somewhere and at some time, we will have to
face hardship, difficulties, problems. But Paul elsewhere in his
writings told us that God would not try us above what we are able
to bear, but will with the trial make a way of escape. We need to
keep our faith in God that He will help us through all of the
valleys that come along in life, then we can really enjoy the
mountain peaks when we are riding high.

     We are also told that Paul and Barnabas (the context of the
verses is talking about those two apostles) appointed, or
separated, or decided, to make spiritual elders (in the plural)
in every Church of God they founded and established. They prayed,
they fasted, and then commended those "elders" to the Lord. Jesus
had said that we aught to pray to God that He would send out more
laborers into the harvest, for the harvest is great.
Not all are called to be spiritual leaders and guides of the
flock of God. There are many functions in the body of Christ,
some are called by God to be apostles (ones send forth
as the Greek means), prophets (given insight into prophetic
things yet to come to pass) evangelists (those acting like Paul
and Barnabas, who have a gift to proclaim God's truths to groups
of unbelievers), and teachers (pastors, overseers of the flock)
(see Acts 20:17-31 and Eph.4:11-16 with Heb.13:7,17).
     It is right and proper that men already in the functions
that Paul and Barnabas were in should be able, with prayer and
fasting, to separate and commend other men to God as "elders" in
the Churches of God. Notice the importance of the use of the
plural, it is elderS, not elder. Every Church of God should if at
all possible have elderS, for no one man should be sole spiritual
guide of any one congregation.  So also was Paul's instruction to
Titus, that he should appoint elderS in every city as Paul had
instructed him to do (Titus 1:5). And later Paul was inspired to
lay down certain requirements for the function of being an elder,
we find them in 1 Tim.3 and Titus 1.

     Paul and Barnabas also went through Pisidia and came to
Pamphylia. They preached the word in Perga and went down to
Attalia, from there they sailed to Antioch in Syria, back to
where they had been commended by the leaders of that congregation
and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,  to go on that
missionary journey.

     When they arrived back in Antioch they gathered all the
members of the church together and told them all about what God
had done through them, and how the door of faith was opened wide
to the Gentiles. There both Paul and Barnabas stayed for quite
some time with all the disciples of Antioch (Acts 14: 8-28).

THE CIRCUMCISION DEBATE IS SETTLED

     Sometime later after Paul and Barnabas had been back in
Antioch for a while, certain men from Judea came and started to
teach the brethren there that "Except you be circumcised after
the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved."
     Paul and Barnabas never taught any such doctrine. We
remember from an earlier chapter that Paul had told us in his
writing to the Galatians, that he was taught personally
by the revelation of Jesus. He knew from the start that physical
circumcision was not required under the New Covenant for
salvation, or in order to be saved. 
     There was quite a debate that ensued, between those who had
come down from Judea teaching circumcision was needed to be saved
and Paul and Barnabas who taught that it was not required to be
saved. The whole congregation finally decided that Paul and
Barnabas and certain other brethren, should go up to Jerusalem,
to the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church and get this
issue decided one way or the other, once and for all.
     On their way up to Jerusalem they went through Phenice and
Samaria declaring the conversion of the Gentiles, and great joy
was upon all the brethren.
     When arriving in Jerusalem they were received by the church
there, and by the apostles and the elders, and they told the
Jerusalem church all the good things God had done through them
and their teaching and preaching.

     We need here to return to Paul's writing in the book of
Galatians for he gives us some information not recorded in Acts
chapter 15 by Luke.

     Paul had not visited the Jerusalem congregation for 14 long
years. This was now about 50 to 52 A.D. as most scholars believe.
Not only Barnabas was with him but also Titus. He went up because
God revealed or impressed him to do so. He told the church
about the Gospel he preached, but he also at this time had
PRIVATE meetings with "those of reputation" just to make sure he
was teaching the same as they were teaching, and that his work
then was not in vain. He makes it clear that none of those in
reputation compelled Titus to be circumcised. He tells us that in
private conference with "those who seemed to be somewhat" that
they added nothing to his teaching or theology we may say. But
just the opposite, when they saw and knew that God was working
with Paul's ministry to the uncircumcised, in as much as He was
working with Peter's ministry to the circumcised, when James,
Peter, and John "who seemed to be pillars" knew that God
was working with Paul and Barnabas, they gave them the right hand
of fellowship, and agreed that Paul and Barnabas should go to the
uncircumcised and that they would concentrate on the circumcised.
Paul said those leaders only wanted to add one thing to their
ministry, and that was to remember the poor, which Paul said he
had already been told that and doing it. Yes, of course he had
for he had been personally taught by Jesus (Gal.2:1-10).

     So we see what went on with Paul and Barnabas in private
meetings with those who were the main leaders of the church in
Jerusalem. The circumcision question was ALREADY put to rest with
them all. They ALL agreed that physical circumcision was NOT
a requirement to be saved. Titus, who was with Paul, and who was
not circumcised, was not required to be circumcised. The issue
and question of physical circumcision was already answered by God
to the apostles of God.

     Now back to Acts 15:5. But there arose some within the sect
of the Pharisees who were believers, members of the church in
Jerusalem, they rose up and said, "It was needful to circumcise
them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
     Now what this was meaning was they taught everyone should
obey all the law of Moses as they did under the Old Covenant,
with all its rituals, sacrifices, and of course physical
circumcision. 
     We must try to put ourselves into those times, to understand
the picture. Physical circumcision had been a very important part
of Jewish life for about 2,000 years, right from the days of
Abraham. To now think it was no longer needed, was to some, like
cutting off their right arm and right leg. It was so ingrained in
their mental thoughts and physical life, they just could not
envision life without that physical rite. Had not God given
it to them as a sign and as a covenant? Had not God said that NO
person could partake of the Passover meal service UNLESS they
were circumcised? Yes, it was so, as under the Old Covenant. So
some of the believers of the sect of the Pharisees just could not
see salvation without physical circumcision. It was anathema to
their minds. To them it was heresy to say physical circumcision
was not required to be saved.

     There was now only one way to resolve this question, and
that was to bring the whole Jerusalem church together, with all
the apostles, with Paul and Barnabas, and have an open debate on
the matter. This is what we now read about in Acts 15 and verses
6 to 21.

THE CIRCUMCISION DEBATE

     The apostles and elders came together to consider the matter
of physical circumcision for salvation. There was  "much
disputing"  we are told. This was not  a low key talk, but a
heated and zealous debate. Peter stood up and said:

     "You know brethren that a good while ago God made it known
     to us His favor that the Gentiles should hear the Gospel by
     my voice, and they believed it. And further, God knowing the
     hearts of people, gave them the Holy Spirit even as he had
     given to us, and this is a witness for us. He put no
     difference between us and them in the purification of
     the heart by faith. Now therefore why do we want to try God
     by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which
     neither our fathers nor us were able to bear. But we believe
     that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be
     saved, even as they are saved."

     In Peter talking about a yoke laid upon them, he was talking
a lot more than the physical act of circumcision. For that rite
could hardly be a yoke that none could bear, as the people of
Israel had lived very well under performing physical
circumcision, after all its only the removal of some physical
skin from an 8 day old baby boy, which thousands still practice
to this very day. This was not the burden that none could bear.
The burden that none could bear, was to try and gain salvation,
or the grace of God, by working at all the laws of Moses. It was
by trying to earn salvation through law observance, and not
through grace by faith. It was trying to live by laws, building
up more good righteous deeds than bad ones, more good thoughts
than bad thoughts, more good words spoken than bad words spoken.
So the good out-numbered the bad and thinking God then was
obliged somehow to have to give you salvation. Being saved that
way would be you earning it. But salvation was NEVER to be
achieved that way. God had always intended that salvation would
be by His grace through faith in the sacrifice of His Son, for
the sins of the whole world. 
     Anyone trying to gain salvation any other way was doomed to
failure, would then truly have a yoke upon them which no one
could bear. For it was just not possible to live a full lifetime
in full harmony with the laws of Moses, with all the laws written
in the books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number,
Deuteronomy). And just one sin or infraction of law would mean
you were guilty of sin and so under the sentence of death.
It's like you obeying all the traffic laws of your town for years
but then you run a red light. All the correct law observance
still cannot nullify the time you broke the law, you are still
guilty and you are still under the penalty imposed on you for
breaking that law. Even if you obey for another ten years all the
traffic laws perfectly after that infraction of the one you
broke, you still must pay the penalty for the one you broke.
     So it is with the laws of God and the way to salvation. But
the police chief sent his Son to pay for you the law/s you broke.
The fine was paid by the Son. All you have to do is believe this,
have faith, accept the Son as your savior from the penalty
imposed, be sorry, repent, set your mind to want to continue as a
way of life, the will and ways and laws of God, and you can be
under His grace, and be saved.
          No other way can work. Any other way you may want to
set as your way, your theology ideas on how to be saved, that is
NOT God's way, can only be a yoke of a burden that none can ever
bear.

     God had made a way of salvation. The apostles knew it. It
had been really revealed to them from the time they spent with
Jesus during His earthly ministry. Now, some many years later,
comes this idea from some that you must be physically
circumcised and still be under ALL the Old Covenant laws of Moses
to be saved. Peter was setting the record straight that salvation
could never be achieved this way.

     Make no mistake, the New Covenant does not "blanket" do away
with all laws of Moses. We are told very clearly  that the New
Covenant will put or write the laws of God into our hearts (see
Hebrews 8) and faith does not do away with law but it established
it (Rom.3: 31). So in living by "every word of God" as Jesus
taught us that we should do (Mat.4:4), we must let the whole
Bible interpret for us how we go about that. Here we are seeing
that physical circumcision is not required. The Old Covenant law
of going to one place or city, where God placed His name to
observe His Festivals, is no longer applicable under the New
Covenant (see John 4:21-24). No one today believes that
women must stay away from "church" when she is in her monthly
cycle, but under the Old Covenant she had to. Under the Old
Covenant a women had to stay away from "church" for a period of
certain days after giving birth to a child. No one believes that
law of Moses is applicable for Christians today.
     
     This group from the sect of the Pharisees, within the Church
of God, were teaching that all people still had to live by all
these laws of Moses, and physical circumcision  was of prime
importance to them. Their theology to salvation was incorrect,
and at this debate, the apostles were making it very clear to all
present that it was an incorrect theology.

     The multitude of the brethren were silent after Peter spoke.
Then it was time for Barnabas and Paul to have their say. And
they declared all the wonders and miracles that God had done
through them among the Gentiles. Of course they would have given
emphasis to the fact that God was doing all this without the
Gentiles having to be circumcised.

     Then James stood up after Barnabas and Paul had finished
speaking, and said:


     "Men and brethren, listen to me. Peter has declared to you
     how God at first brought in the Gentiles, to call out from
     them a people for His name. And to this agrees the very
     prophets in the Scriptures that we have; as it is written,
     'After this I will return, and will build up the tabernacle
     of David, which has seen corruption and lays in ruin; and I
     will build again the ruins of it, and set it all in correct
     order. So the relatively small elect of men may find the way
     to the Lord, and all the Gentiles also, upon whom I will
     place my name. I the Lord have done all this' (Amos
     9:11-12).  Known unto God are all His works from the
     beginning of the world. Wherefore my judgment is this. That
     we do not trouble them, which are from among the Gentile
     nations who have turned to God. But that we write to them
     that they abstain from pollutions of idols, from sexual
     immorality, from animals strangled to death in killing them
     for food, and from the eating of blood. For Moses has from
     old times in every city those that teach his word, being
     always read in the synagogue every Sabbath day" (Acts 15:
     6-21).

     A very important answer by James. He backed up what Peter
and Barnabas and Paul had to say with the very word of God. It
had been foretold by God Himself that His truths to worshipping
Him and to salvation (tabernacle of David) would be ruined, would
become incorrectly understood. But He would build it back, would
restore it to correctness, and in so doing, He would also bring
it to the Gentile nations. This, James was saying, is what God
had already done over the preceding years. The true way to
salvation had been clearly revealed to the apostles by God's word
and by acting in certain ways to show the apostles that true way.
And God had always from the beginning of His works determined
salvation would be only attained this one way. 
     
     Now verses 20 and 21 have given some great problems to
understand. Many have thought the Gentiles only have to follow
these four laws, and everything else can go out the window.
Rather silly is this reasoning, for surely the Gentiles are not
free to kill and murder, or to take God's  name in vain, or to
bow before idols, while the Jews must obey those laws. And then
notice that some of the four things mentioned are what you might
call "physical" laws; i.e. things strangled to death and then
eaten, was prohibited to the Jews by God, as one of the food laws
under the Old Covenant, for the blood was to be drained, which
meant killing the animal in such a way as to allow the blood to
drain. This is obviously a physical food law. Yet James says
Gentiles were then to obey it. Same can be said for "blood."
James is obviously talking about the physical law of not eating
blood, which God said the Israelites were not to do. 
     Yes, this can give some people problems in their thoughts,
and with some it leads to believing many errors of New Testament
theology, as well as out and out contradictions in their theology
ideas.

     Some astute Bible scholars have of course seen the strange
ideas many have devised from these two verses, and have come to
see the truth in the context of the whole New Testament.

     James listed four things the Gentiles should be warned
specifically about, so not to do or observe, because the Gentiles
HAD GREAT TROUBLE WITH THEM! Or to put it another way the Gentile
LIFE STYLE WAS FULL OF THOSE FOUR THINGS MENTIONED. The various
pollutions to idols was numerous, superstitions, lucky-charms,
fortune-telling, palm-reading, crystal-ball reading, trying to
look to the heavenly stars to see your future, and many many
more, was all over the heathen world. Sexual immorality was
everywhere in the pagan world, probably the panicle of that sin
was in having Temple prostitutes. Often the pagan Temples
employed hundreds of women whose occupation was to have sexual
relations with the men who came to worship in the Temples. Temple
sex for them was part and parcel of their religious faith and
practice. The pagan health practices were often very debased and
far from the physical health laws laid down by God to Israel
through Moses. Eating and drinking of blood in various ways was
common among the Gentiles. Much blood would be consumed by them
in strangling animals to death and not draining the blood from
them, as well as the literal drinking of cups of blood in their
religious rites and ceremonies. God had told Israel that LIFE was
in the blood, and that they should not eat and drink blood. Today
we are seeing the importance of not contaminating our cattle in
the many ways that our nations have been doing (thinking it
produces larger and quicker meat supply). But eventually it comes
back on us in health problems (the "mad cow decease" is but one,
but one of the most severe ones), for blood carries the life flow
of the animal to all its tissues, and if the animal's blood in
not drained fully, or if we drink cups of it in pagan religious
rites, then we are finally  going to reap bad health problems of
one kind or another. With things like our "mad cow decease" we
may even drain the blood from the animal correctly but its
tissue meat is so polluted we still are effected by it, even to
the point of death. 
 
     The Gentiles may have come over into the Christian church,
but as many people know who have come out of deep and gross sins
as a way of life that they perhaps lived for many years, it is
not always easy to give up fully and completely those sins, be it
mental, spiritual, or physical. How many have accepted Jesus as
their Savior, only in time to return to the sins they came out
of? Many a Pastor will tell you that it can be many who just
cannot fully and completely kill the old man with its lusts and
passions. Sadly they will tell you of many that come to Jesus
with good intentions and come to the "church" for a while, but in
time often drift away and end up back in their old way of life
and sins.
     It was no different in the days of James and this Jerusalem
debate. The Gentiles tended to have MAJOR problems with certain
pollutions with old idols, with sexual immorality, with not
killing animals in a way to drain the blood, and to even drinking
blood in various forms, in their past life. Heathen peoples often
have "blood" eating and drinking as part of their rites and
worship. Like many other things, certain physical things, that
God does not allow in our lives, can take a hold on us and be
very difficult to break, just ask (not really, but as a figure of
speech) some Christians who still have a problem in overcoming
the smoking habit.

     It is also just as obvious if we simply take it for what
James said, that James did not believe the four things he
mentioned were "done away with" under the New Covenant.
Some of them are of the "moral" law and some of them are of the
"physical" law of God. But all of them James still expected the
Gentiles (as well as the Jews of course) to obey and to live by,
living in NOT doing them.
     They were four of the MOST PROMINENT problems for Gentiles
to put away from their lives, so James felt it needful to
specifically point them out to them.  Other things they could
find out in due time, for he then went on to say what he said in
verse 21.
     They could find the ways of God, living His way of life, as
they attended Sabbath services in Jewish synagogues on the
Sabbath, not Sunday you will note, but on the Sabbath, the day
that Jews observed in accordance to the fourth commandment of the
great ten commandments. Moses, or the laws in the first five
books of the Bible, were read every Sabbath, and the Gentiles
could then "grow in grace and knowledge" as we are told to do
under the New Covenant, by hearing what Moses wrote under the
guiding hand of God. They could hear Moses every Sabbath day in
the synagogues.

     James was still upholding what Jesus said for us to do, that
is, to live by every word of God.

THE DECISION CONVEYED TO 
THE CHURCH IN ANTIOCH

     The apostles, elders, and the whole church there at
Jerusalem decided to write a letter of the outline of the
decision that was reached, to the Gentile brethren in Antioch 
and Syria and Cilicia. They also decided to send along a few
other men with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. The men chosen were
men of leadership in the brethren at Jerusalem, and they were
Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas. They would also verify
what was written in the letter was true.
     The letter basically gave the outline of what we have just
studied as to what happened in the Jerusalem debate over the
matter of physical circumcision. It upheld the fact that God had
fully revealed for some time, that physical circumcision was not
required in order to be saved.

     The men were sent on their way to Antioch, and when they
arrived they gathered all the church together and delivered to
them the letter from the church at Jerusalem. The Gentiles after
reading it had great rejoicing. Judas and Silas having been given
from God the gift of functioning as prophets, encouraged the
people with many words of exhortation. They stayed for a while
and then it became time to return to the apostles in Jerusalem,
but Silas was pleased to want to stay and so he did. Paul and
Barnabas also continued as before and lived in Antioch, teaching
and preaching the word of God along with many others who did the
same (Acts 15:22-35).

PAUL AND BARNABAS HAVE DIFFERENCES 
OVER JOHN MARK 

     Time went by and one day Paul said to Barnabas that they
should go back to the churches they established on their first
missionary journey, and encourage them and see how things were
going for them all. Barnabas thought it was a good idea and
wanted to take along with them John Mark. Paul did not think so,
he just did not like the thought of taking John Mark with them
again, because, if we remember, Mark had departed from
them at Pamphylia, and had returned to Jerusalem, no longer
wanting to do the work Paul and Barnabas were doing at the time
for the Lord.
     The contention over Mark coming with them or not, grew and
grew between the two men, and the end result was that they both
decided it was best to separate and go their different ways in
doing God's work. So Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to
Cyprus. Paul chose to take Silas with him  and was commended by
the brethren for God's work and so departed. He and Silas went
through Cilicia and Syria serving and helping the churches to
endure in the faith delivered to them (Acts 15:36-41).

     We see here NOT a difference in basic doctrinal belief or
practice between two men of God as they were doing the work of
the Lord, but what we might call "administrational thoughts" -
how to, in what way to, and with whom, would the work of the Lord
be done. Both men were still doing God's work, there was no
"church disfellowshipment" going on here, no one was being asked
to leave the Church of God. One apostle did not go to other
apostles to try and have the other he disagreed with, thrown out
of the church. This is important to remember in this example, for
in some sects of Christianity they have done just this very
thing, ministers differing over issues where difference should be
allowed, they try to "gang up" with other ministers, to have
the one they differ with cast out of their organization.
     None of that went on here. Two ministers of God differed on
how to do God's work, and who they should do it with. They could
not come to agreement on the matter, and so they simply went
their separate ways to perform the work of the Lord. They were
still fully a part of God's work, and I'm sure were both still
fully used to teach and spread the Gospel, and/or encourage those
who were in the faith.

     The rest of the book of Acts gives focus to Paul and the
work God did through him over the next number of years.


                ............................


TO BE CONTINUED


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